By Zhong Sheng
The United States has long been considering itself a “beacon of democracy.” American politicians always lie through their teeth, claiming that “democracies have become stronger, not weaker,” despite the problems that plague their country, such as money politics, political polarization, social divide, wealth gap, racial discrimination and gun violence.
Obviously, American politicians are still in the dream of “a City upon a Hill” even though American democracy is experiencing a continuous decline.
American democracy is a “game of the rich” based on capital, and money remains a “strong currency” in U.S. politics.
American historian Charles Beard once said inexplicitly that the U.S. Constitution is essentially an “economic document.” As a matter of fact, American democracy represents and serves only the interests of a few capitalists.
Money politics exists in the country’s election, legislation and governance, which turns economic inequality into political inequality and imperceptibly oppresses and restricts citizens’ right to political participation.
Money politics has pushed the cost of American elections to new highs. The total cost of the 2020 election reach an unprecedented $14 billion, making it the most expensive election in history. According to statistics, winners of 91 percent of U.S. Congressional elections are the candidates with greater financial support. And those so-called representatives of the people, once elected, often serve the interests of their financial backers.
Renowned American scholar Noam Chomsky once pointed out that the U.S. is a “really existing capitalist democracy”, where there is a positive correlation between people’s wealth and their influence on policy-making.
American democracy always flaunts the separation of powers, but it is gradually trapped in a whirlpool of partisanship. American political scientist Francis Fukuyama pointed out that there is an entrenched political paralysis in the U.S.
Political polarization continues to grow as the two parties drift further apart in political agenda and their areas of consensus have reduced significantly. The country is in a vicious circle where Democrats and Republicans dissent from each other and make political dilemmas.
Over the recent years, “vetocracy” has been staged in the U.S. continuously when it comes to the issues of COVID-19 fight, gun violence control and raising debt ceiling.
Both Republicans and Democrats take voting down each other as a weapon, which of course results in weakening governance, sabotaged rule of law, expanding social divide and residents becoming victims.
“The United States has long wasted and exhausted our precious democracy and it is now on the verge of committing suicide,” said former U.S. senator Tom Daschle in a recent article.
The disorder of American democracy has frequently triggered chaos and consumed people’s confidence.
The Capitol riot completely exposed the hypocrisy of American democracy. Systemic racial discrimination has made ethnic minorities in the United States “can’t breathe.” Frequent gun violence is taking away people’s sense of safety. The unequal distribution of economic development results has led to long-term stagnation in people’s income, exacerbating the progress that ” the rich become richer while the poor are made poorer.”
A survey by the Pew Research Center showed that 57 percent of international respondents and 72 percent of Americans believe that democracy in the U.S. has not been a good example for others to follow in recent years. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, a Sweden-based think tank, listed the U.S. as a “backsliding democracy” for the first time in 2021.
The problematic American democracy is taking the general public increasingly farther from quality governance. However, the U.S. is not showing any will to get back to the right track.
Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, noted that American democracy, which was once described as a “shining city on a hill,” is now under siege from within.
Facts prove that the U.S. has never been a “good student” in democracy, let alone a “role model.” The hollow slogans of American politicians won’t make the chaotic American democracy any stronger. American politicians, who are addicted to self-deception, make democracy a political tool and weapon, and interfere in other countries domestic affairs, should face up to the structural flaws of the American system and do something that’s good to Americans and the people in the rest of the world.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)