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Secrest: Acceptance is a virtue our democracy relies on

Collegian | Trin Bonner

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

The persuasive game of American democracy has included aggressive attacks for nearly 200 years, and though heated opinions have persisted, unprecedented challenges have manifested in the past decade. 


The tense tussle has prepared generation after generation at the polls, but recently, it has motivated election deniers, civil unrest, hyperpolarization and even an attack on the Capitol. 

The heat of debate doesn’t mean a democracy is healthy or even functioning, and as elections approach yet again, it is time we consider how to achieve that.

Americans have become less and less confident in democracy as time has passed. Half of the public feels our democracy is functioning poorly, according to the June Associated Press and National Opinion Research Center poll

The distrust of government extends through parties. In this poll, 61% of Republicans, 56% of independents and 36% of Democrats reported they didn’t feel American democracy is functioning well. 

If so many feel American democracy is struggling, should we be concerned about its future? As people lose faith in the system, should we embrace barreling forward, or should we look back to restore aspects of our democracy at risk? 

Democracy considers a “power to the people” form of government. For Americans, this is supposed to embody a representative government. Maintaining democracy requires people to show up and be heard. 

Because this representation is at risk, we should absolutely be looking at and criticizing the democracy that currently exists. First and foremost, if voices of the American people are not heard, then our democracy is not representative. The best way to voice an opinion within the status quo is to vote. 

Even so, when votes aren’t respected or are disregarded by the masses, democracy struggles. Consider the movement to deny that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Convictions against Biden and his performance are subjective, and ideally, opinions should be respected, but the fact that he won should not be a controversial statement. 

The concern is that each side is out to get the other, and that means you should either give up or isolate anyone who doesn’t agree with you. 


Partisanship drives distrust and division. “About eight in 10 Democrats say the Republican party is failing at upholding democratic values, and a similar number of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party,” according to the AP-NORC poll

Opinions change based on how well a demographic’s goals are being met. The AP-NORC poll found that six in 10 Democrats said Biden somewhat upholds democratic values, whereas four in five Republicans said he doesn’t uphold those values. Democrats and Republicans flip that same opinion in regard to the Supreme Court. 

The inability to accept defeat or even accept our role in democracy through public criticism discourages voters.

Roughly 80 million people didn’t vote in 2020, and of those surveyed by the Medill School of Journalism, 16% said it was because they didn’t feel like it mattered, 20% didn’t like the candidates and 23% weren’t interested in politics

Even though 67% of American voters showed up in 2020, that is not the standard, and it still leaves a third of Americans without input on their government. 

Right here on the Fort Collins campus of Colorado State University, we have a government that represents us, yet rarely do people show up to vote. So how are they really representing us if we are not communicating what we need? 

CSU student voter turnout decreased from 15% in 2020 to 6.17% in 2022. At best, that isn’t even a fourth of students who are voting in Associated Students of Colorado State University elections. 

Some students aren’t aware they can vote, some feel unaffected and some don’t believe actionable change can be made by the student government.

These concerns are a true reality for many, but by not participating, we co-create an environment in which we are not supported. 

American philosopher John Dewey said, “Democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience,” a quote CSU has used in launching their Thematic Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement. 

It is time we accept our role as contributors and show up for our democracy. Telling your representatives what you want is a power democracy relies on, whether it be in ASCSU or the federal government.

Reach Ivy Secrest at or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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About the Contributors
Ivy Secrest, Life & Culture Director
Ivy Secrest is the first director of The Collegian's new life and culture section. This section aims to cover cultural events on campus and give readers a deeper look into life and culture-related issues. Secrest is a Colorado local from Denver and came to Colorado State University in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. She is a third-year journalism and media communication major with a global environmental sustainability minor who has a special interest in science communication. This year, she hopes to utilize these interests as she helps to develop the life and culture desk. She has been writing with The Collegian since her first year as an arts and culture reporter. She could not be more grateful for the opportunities these past few years have provided her. Especially in regard to connecting to the community and giving her a real sense of what the world of news entails, the experience has been irreplaceable. Secrest has a deep passion for conversing with the community and aiming to accurately and fully tell their stories. Other than reporting and editing, her passions include skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. She is also active in CSU's Outdoor Club, Dead Poets Society and Science Communication Club.
Trin Bonner, Illustration Editor
Trin Bonner, The Collegian's illustration editor this year, is a second-year student studying graphic design and minoring in religious philosophy. She finds inspiration in unique ideas and perspectives and is intrigued and driven by themes of the unknown and the existential. As an artist, she seeks to create works that spark humor and joy in her audience, and she sees it important to utilize her art as a means to make people laugh and smile, inspiring her to create comics and illustrations for anyone to enjoy. When she's not busy drawing, she enjoys playing and listening to music. To Bonner, music carries a sense of happiness, peace and tranquility she values having in her daily life. In the future, she hopes to create her own music that can be a source of peace, tranquility and happiness to someone else. Overall, she feels it is important to spread as much positive energy in the world as she can. Studying philosophy has guided her to value the good in life, and with the importance of that in mind, she goes through life attempting to spark a bit of positivity wherever she can. As illustration editor, Bonner hopes to direct the illustrations found in The Collegian toward having a sense of joy the readers can experience.

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