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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
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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