US election voting

The Challenges To Democracy Faced By The United States Today

How does the United States electorial system compare to that in Australia? What are the significant challenges to democracy the United States face today?

These are just some of the questions Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull unpacks with Eric H. Holder Jr on the first episode of season three of Defending Democracy with Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Holder Jr, who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the US from 2009 to 2015 in the Obama Administration, argues the health of a democracy can be measured by the number of people who can easily engage in the electoral process.

Listen to episode one now:

America has voluntary voting and a system that allows state legislatures to draw district boundaries through gerrymandering.

This practice significantly distorts the political landscape and skews representatives to the left and right, making the primary the main contest for a safe seat.

Mr Turnbull and and Mr Holder Jr delve into the intricacies of the US election process, discussing the role of the Electoral College and its implications for the presidential race, particularly for Joe Biden.

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Mr Holder Jr explains the negative flow on effects of gerrymandering.

“If you’re a safe seat, you don’t worry about the general election. All you’re concerned about is potentially being challenged in a primary election. That pushes Republicans further and further to the right, [and] there’ll be fair Democrats further and further to the left,” he said.

“It is seen then as a sign of weakness if you reach across the aisle and try to compromise with a person of a different party and you invite a primary challenger, and as a result, people go to the extremes.

“We don’t see the necessary interaction to get legislation passed and people in the United States then get very cynical about the impact or the effectiveness of government.

“So there’s a whole range of negative things that flow from from gerrymandering. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to tackle it after I left the Department of Justice.”

Season three of Defending Democracy with Malcolm Turnbull is available now on LiSTNR.