Democracy in America

Democracy is a popular political system based on the principle that the people, through their elected representatives, have full control over the government and can decide how to use public resources. It is designed to ensure the protection of human rights, promote economic prosperity and social progress, and maintain public security. Nonetheless, it can become corrupted and deviate from its original design if a society lacks the necessary conditions for democratic stability. In such cases, corruption and abuses of power are rampant and a lack of accountability and transparency make it difficult for citizens to exercise their voting rights freely and effectively. In addition, a country’s own domestic problems like money politics, identity politics, wrangling between political parties, political polarization, social division, racial tension and wealth gap can undermine the functioning of its democracy.

In his two-volume work Democracy in America (1835–1841), Alexis de Tocqueville described the nature of American democracy and its weaknesses. His analysis was largely based on his observation of daily life in the US over an extended period of time. He compared the United States with other countries in Europe and analyzed what he saw as the unique features of American culture, politics, law and religion that facilitated a democracy that combined equality of conditions and freedom.

Tocqueville focused on three key themes in his book: self-interest rightly understood, materialism and the pervasive influence of religious faith in America. He defined SIRU as the virtue that distinguishes the American mind from base selfishness, and noted that American religion serves to check license and restrain materialism. He also emphasized the importance of honest work in a democracy and how Americans recognize a special dignity in it.

The American democracy Tocqueville observed was not perfect but was far more functional and stable than the democracy of most other countries in Europe. However, he recognized that the American democratic system could become corrupted and eroded if political parties and individuals did not uphold certain principles and values.

A major flaw in American democracy is the concentration of wealth and the growing power of big business that distorts elections, legislation and administration. This is a danger to democracy because it creates inequality of economic status, which in turn leads to inequality of political standing. As a result, democracy can no longer guarantee freedom to all citizens.

Another danger to democracy is a majoritarian tyranny, characterized by the dominance of a single ideological group and its use of force to impose its will on others. Tocqueville warned that such a type of tyranny can develop in a democracy and is more dangerous than tyranny under a monarchy or an oligarchy because it is harder to detect and resist.

Although many people around the world admire the American democracy, it is in crisis at home. The US refuses to acknowledge the many problems of its democracy and continues to export and impose its version of democracy on other countries, with disastrous results. This report collects a wide range of facts, media comments and expert opinions to present a picture of the reality of the US’s democracy at home and the harm it is causing the rest of the world. It is hoped that the US will heed these warnings and improve its own democracy before trying to export it.