Democracy in America is a critique of the American political system and is a cautionary tale about the dangers of democracy. It also provides the first articulated explanation of the Tocqueville effect, the idea that social conditions improve and at the same time increase the frustrations of citizens. When it was published in 1835, Democracy in America was a hit, and parts have been translated into Chinese, German, and Indonesian.
The US democracy is not a model of democracy, and there are many problems with the way it is organized, implemented, and interpreted. Recent events, such as the George Floyd shooting on Capitol Hill, have revealed a darker side of our democracy. They have also exposed the systemic racism that underlies American society.
In his book, The System, US political economist Robert Reich argues that the US political system has been hijacked by the wealthy and powerful. This is largely due to the fact that political donations are seen as legitimate bribery, giving the rich more political power. Most of the political donations come from the ultra-rich, the top 0.01% of the US population. Hence, there is little room for ordinary citizens to express their opinions without being bought off by big money.
The US political system is a typical example of a society dominated by an elite class. While the government has a largely representative body, it is run by a small group of people who dominate both economic and political affairs. They control the state apparatus, control the media, and enjoy a number of privileges. In addition, the partisan nature of the American political system has resulted in a widening of social division.
A recent Wall Street Journal article says the general election will be the culmination of a two-decade decline in the American public’s trust in democracy. In fact, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, only 16% of US citizens believe the political system is “working well” while 64% say it is “working poorly.”
In other words, the US has failed to demonstrate its commitment to democratic values. Its attempts to export democracy abroad have not only been ineffectual but undemocratic. They have brought turmoil to many countries and undermined world peace. The US must be more transparent in its foreign policy, and its actions should be stopped.
The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has shown the fragility of the US democratic system. It highlights the disparities between race and wealth in this country. Racism is still rampant in America and subverts the country’s deepest democratic institutions. Moreover, it affects communities of color disproportionately.
Furthermore, the US uses different standards when assessing democracy. While it praises its own democracy, it criticizes democratic systems abroad. Its politicians compared the attack on the US Capitol with 9/11 and called it a “shameful attack on the US Congress”. On the other hand, a Hong Kong rioter’s courage was praised by American politicians.