Do you ever get frustrated with the political situation in America, and wonder if you’d be better off somewhere else? From climate to culture to cost of living and politics, every country in the world is different and each has its own unique set of pros and cons. One of the very things that most attracts immigrants to the United States is the political freedom we have here – something many of us tend to take for granted. In contrast, consider Mexico, where citizens have had to fight for their independence both from foreign powers as well as in-country military regimes, and yet still do not have a completely functioning democracy.
In the later part of the 19th century, Mexico officially shook off the last of invading foreign powers, the final one being Austria in 1867. However, the political scene didn’t improve too much over the next 35 years during the dictatorship and military rule of Porfirio Diaz. Can you imagine a U.S. president staying in office for what amounts to just over nine terms? It wasn’t until the Mexican Revolution, that began in 1910 and continued for ten long years, that Diaz was finally forced to give up control.
The Mexican constitution that provided the framework for democracy was written in 1917. However, many people would argue that Mexico did not actually come close to a democracy until recent times. This is underscored by the fact that there was a single political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for nearly the entirety of the 20th century. Furthermore, even though there has technically been a multiparty system in place since 2000, the PRI still retains the great majority of power. Violence, oppression and corruption continue to plague the very institutions that are supposed to provide fair and equal representation to all Mexicans.
With the contentious nature of politics today, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the U.S. federal government is a cumbersome, slow-moving, inflexible, behemoth of an institution. Before doing so, however, it’s worth taking time to consider the benefits to our system. Every citizen can give voice to their political beliefs without fear of retribution. We have a multi-party system that allows people to align themselves with a group of like-minded folks that best represents their goals, interests and values. And everyone over the age of 18 has the right to vote for the elected officials they want to represent their views in Washington D.C.
Even when the national debate becomes adversarial and the in-fighting annoying, living in a country with the kind of political rights and freedom of expression that we enjoy here in the United States is something we should all take a moment to appreciate. The best way to do that? Don’t take it for granted and go the polls to make your vote count!