By Zhong Sheng
What is American democracy? With artful and delicate choice of words, some U.S. officials advertise it as a “beacon of democracy”.
For the Americans, however, American democracy is nothing but a promise that U.S. politicians make playfully and have no intention of keeping.
The democracy slogans of some U.S. politicians seem pale and weak when it comes to advancing economy and safeguarding people’s wellbeing, especially in economic crises, natural disasters, epidemics and other major challenges. Moreover, such slogans have increasingly revealed their true colors which are all about lies.
American democracy is hollow inside and haunted by deep-rooted problems, no matter how it is bragged about by certain U.S. politicians, which is conspicuous for both Americans and those outside of the country.
More and more observers consider the U.S. a unique example of sick democratic systems in today’s world.
American political scientist Nathan Gardels has a profound perception of the institutional predicament of American democracy. He said there is scarce political capacity for the kind of long-term thinking, planning, and continuity of governance in American democracy, during which democracy actually yields to a short-term tyranny of breaking news and “one man, one vote” sovereign will, thus leading to the prevailing of populism.
In the book How Democracies Die, U.S. political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt points out the original sin of American democracy of racial inequality.
Norms of toleration and restraint serve as the soft guardrails of American democracy, and yet they depend on the suppressing and neglecting of African Americans under official approval, says the book.
In the 2020 elections, people’s confidence in the American democratic system fell to its lowest point in 20 years, said the Wall Street Journal, citing data from a poll.
Although certain American politicians admit that the U.S. society has its problems, they seem unable to keep their promise to make a difference for the Americans. Of course, they are doing something to cover up their incompetence. However, no matter how they put on the shows, they are pretending after all. They may fool people once, but never all the time.
When economy encountered depression and COVID-19 broke out, “tipping points” are found almost everywhere in the polarized and divided American society.
The Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t quieted down in America, and yet Stop Asian Hate rallies have spurred another wave across the country. While shooting accidents seem not to end, gun control bills have continuously been shelved.
Driven by the out-of-control COVID-19 epidemic at home, the U.S. is seeing worsening human rights crises, widening gap between the rich and poor, and faster social division.
Facts have shown that American democracy has already been distorted in its struggles.
“We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect,” said former U.S. President Barack Obama in the inaugural address for his second term of office.
Unfortunately, the truth is the political ecology in the U.S. hasn’t been changed. Some U.S. politicians still fix their eyes on money politics and have no trouble trampling on the moral red line in political marketing. The political operation systems they want, which disobey fairness and justice, haven’t been shaken at all.
It should be noted that the worse the American democracy decays in money politics, the more lies would be fabricated by these U.S. politicians to cover up the truth, which will only drive American democracy to collapse even faster.
In 1870, Mark Twain told a story about how a decent and loyal man was framed as an infamous perjurer, thief, body-snatcher, alcohol addict, filthy corruptionist, and loathsome embracer by his opponents in a gubernatorial election in his short story Running for Governor. The story, which described American politics as ridiculous and full of rumors, was not entirely made up, but a norm of the American democracy.
When thousands of demonstrators violently stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this year, the deceiving plot by some U.S. politicians was finally laid bare.
This is an repercussion for some high-ranking American officials who spread lies, contempt democracy, and incite hatred and division, said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
It’s time that the U.S. politicians stop telling lies and fooling people. It is no use labeling the country “the land of freedom” and a “beacon of democracy”. Ultimately, the la-la land they have built to deceive the Americans and the world will collapse. As American scholar Reinhold Niebuhr put it, it is unreasonable for the U.S. to name itself “the mentor of mankind in the journey toward perfection”. As the pandemic is still spreading, to give a fair answer to the Americans remains a serious and urgent task for the so-called American democracy.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)