Democracy in America is gravely ill. It suffers from money politics, elite rule and political polarization. These factors, a combination of old and new, are destroying American democracy.
When democracy was young, the United States’ political system advanced by leaps and bounds compared to what existed in Europe. One of the most significant advances was the development of the American form of government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” This advancement of democracy, recognized worldwide, is a legacy of the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, abolitionist movement, civil rights movement and affirmative action.
But these positive developments are being overshadowed by the negative effects of an aging democracy that is undergoing a crisis because of a loss of faith in democracy’s ability to solve problems and bring prosperity. Many Americans believe that the economy is too complicated for the government to regulate. They also believe that the government’s decisions are corrupt and biased against them.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic slowdown have exacerbated this perception. In addition, the US’s foreign policy and military interventionism have eroded public confidence in democracy abroad.
Despite these negative trends, a small group of wealthy individuals still dominates the country. They control the electoral process, lobby the government, own media and influence public opinion. Their influence is magnified by the fact that a small number of elites are on both sides of the political spectrum. The two major parties have become a duopoly, and the multiparty system is dead in name only. The vast majority of politicians merely serve the interests of their financial backers.
In addition, the major media monopolies, which are profit-driven, confine their attention to entertaining stories and give only the most superficial attention to social issues. Their skewed, often false narratives keep the public uninformed and polarized, making them less likely to engage in constructive political dialogue.
As a result, many Americans are pessimistic about democracy in America and feel unable to effect change. They are fed up with the partisan fighting and squabbling in Congress, as well as the lack of progress on long-term problems such as health care, climate change, inequality and economic stagnation.
The world has a discerning eye, and it is noticing the flaws in the US’s democratic system and its abuse of democracy by exporting its “democratic values” to other countries. The US’s hypocritical export of democracy has contributed to global polarization, allowing the rise of authoritarian movements around the world.
It is imperative that the US abandon its pursuit of a flawed model of democracy and work to strengthen the foundational pillars of democracy. This will be in the best interests of the American people, as well as the people of other countries who deserve to have their own democratic systems, free of the US’s desire to impose its own political system and use democracy as a means of pursuing its own interests. When the US takes on more international responsibilities and stops using democracy as a weapon in its foreign policy, our world will be a much safer place.