By Josie Wold
In You Call This Democracy? Elizabeth Rusch answers the questions, “What are the weak spots in our democracy?” and “How can we make them stronger?” in a way that makes complicated issues clear. Rusch explains that to be hopeful and empowered we must be informed. And, as far as democracy goes, this is especially important for young people because they are the future.
Rusch’s nonpartisan approach uses examples from Republicans, Democrats, and history to lay out the issues and solutions that will equip young citizens and future voters with her perspective on why our democracy is the way it is and how to make it better. Presenting data-rich information in a variety of easy to understand and engaging ways, her book includes hundreds of well-documented sources, suggestions for further reading, and next-step links. This resource has the potential to be used as the central piece in a lesson plan, a go-to reference for curious students, and an interesting book to read.
If you are one of those Americans who thinks that in our democracy everyone should have a vote and every vote should count equally, you may be wondering things such as, why does the candidate with the most popular votes not always win the presidential election? Or, how do state requirements for voter ID impact who votes? Or, how does drawing lines for voting districts change election outcomes? These and many other questions are considered and explained with each chapter addressing a distinct issue. Rusch succinctly covers the topics of the electoral college, voter suppression, campaign funding, the right to lie in campaigns, and gerrymandering. Also discussed are voter age, senate representation, the voting rights of ex-felons, and statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.
It is easy to see why this book is a finalist for the 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, opens a new window. It is well-written, informative, and important, leaving the reader ready to take action.