Many have proclaimed their disapproval over elections outcomes. Some have suggested foul play because their candidate isn't automatically declared the winner. Some have labeled elections processes undemocratic. In a few instances, unsatisfied individuals propose a referendum or ballot initiative to change election rules.
We are in need of a civics lesson. Our nation is not a democracy. It is a republic. If there is any doubt, look at the Constitution. Electors, consisting of a body equal in number and representation to the sum of the House of Representatives and the Senate, choose the President. In the event they cannot come to a majority, the House of Representatives makes the final determination. Originally, senators were chosen by state legislatures, not the broader public. In 1789, only the House of Representatives was elected by popular vote. Today, because of the 17th amendment, the Senate is also elected by popular vote.
Some advocate the wrong process for solving perceived elections problems. For example, Consider the discussion regarding the presidential election outcome where the popular vote and the electoral college produced different results. The United States can't change the process for electing the President from Electors to the winner of the popular vote by ballot initiative or legislation. It requires amending the Constitution.
A republic is fundamentally different from a democracy. In a democracy, voters take action or legislate through ballot initiatives and referenda. The majority rules--right or wrong with little consideration for the minority. Further, referenda are passed with no process for ammendment or improvement. In a republic, voters select representatives that govern according to a charter (or constitution) and these representatives act on behalf of voters in a deliberative process of legislation and negotiation. Voters may re-elect them or give the office to another.
Most of the time, those who substitute "democracy" for "republic" are making an unintended error. Similarly, the term "democracy" and Democrat are no more linked than "republic" and Republican. The respective parties may have opposing views on many issues, but both support our representative form of government.
Politics has always been contentious. Emotions run high when supporting candidates or debating interests and principles that individuals feel strongly about. Disagreements are common when parties seek to persuade detractors and reassure supporters. Contention over policy or an unfavorable election outcome is a poor justification for changing the process. The effectiveness of the representative process is grounded in the necessity of assembling a majority while protecting the interests of the minority.
Today, many argue there is too little accomplished by the Congress or the President. Their respective stalemates and corresponding contention are frustrating. To them, I argue that this was an intentional design of the founders to ensure that a majority in one body can't ignore the interests of others. If there is an inability to achieve consensus among a majority in Congress or among branches of government, we ought to take time to work through the issues. Some issues will move too slowly to appease advocates, but governance is a process of persuasion. By definition it is slow, you don't get everything you want, and there are opposing views trying to stop your efforts.
Understanding the process is an important part of participation. Citizens understand what it means to vote, but frequently misunderstand the process and misinterpret the outcomes. We must do a better job educating voters and their children about our elections and legislative processes if we want better voter participation with less contention in the future.