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December 7, 2021

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Why deadly US democracy can no longer fool the world

The so-called “summit for democracy,” initiated by the United States, comes at an awkward moment, as many around the world seem to be asking the same question: does America have a functioning democracy?

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center revealed an extremely bleak view on the US democracy among people in Western countries, as “very few” believe it “sets a good example” for others to follow. Another poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that nearly half of Americans think democracy is not functioning properly in the country.

Evidently, the self-styled “beacon for democracy” is dimming before the eyes of the world. The growing disillusionment with the US political system is the end-result of a string of events seen as an utter disgrace to American democracy — the deadly insurrection at the Capitol Hill, the sweeping Black Lives Matter protests, and the humiliating pullout from Afghanistan.

The dysfunction of US democracy is, first and foremost, reflected in governance failure. In a highly polarized political climate, Democrats and Republicans remain split on almost every issue of public interest ranging from gun control, health care to pandemic response, making governance extremely clumsy and ineffective.

As politicians bicker and fight endlessly, it is the ordinary Americans who bear the consequences. “A paralyzed democracy can’t protect us,” said The Washington Post in an op-ed in April, commenting on the country’s rampant gun violence.

Widening wealth gap

Meanwhile, social disparity, systemic racist discrimination, widening wealth gap and rising populism have compounded the crisis of the American democracy and torn the country further apart. The US democratic system is also fatally flawed because it never truly represents the fundamental interests of the people, nor has it ever been truly run by the voters.

Instead, the American politics have already degenerated into a pure game of money. The total cost of the 2020 US election was estimated at a whopping US$14 billion, a sum more than what had been spent during the last two election cycles combined.

In America’s dollar democracy, it is those super-riches and various privileged elite groups who rule from behind and pull the strings. Politicians are just proxies and do their masters’ biddings.

“Democracy is in crisis ... citizens have lost the capacity for political influence because there are too many shortcuts that allow powerful actors to make political decisions outside the public,” wrote Cristina Lafont, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, in a November article in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Meanwhile the United States is still obsessed with imposing its so-called democracy onto others for global hegemony. Yet it turns out that Washington has only exported to other parts of the world endless destruction and deaths.

All these tragic events point to the plain fact that the American democracy is not only dysfunctional, both home and abroad, but also runs contrary to the spirit of actual democracy. The global community will not be fooled by such an out-of-order, decaying and destructive democracy.

The authors are Xinhua writers.




 

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