The US is no longer a model for democracy. In fact, its citizens are increasingly pessimistic about the country’s democracy and the way it works. According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, only 19% of Americans surveyed think democracy is working well or extremely well.
The problem is not so much the system design or structure of American-style democracy, but how the process is carried out in practice. As a result, the country is in danger of losing its status as the world’s foremost champion of democracy.
In an era of unprecedented globalization, the world’s democracies face challenges that have never before been seen. One major issue is the growing disparity between the richest and poorest nations. As the economic gap between rich and poor continues to widen, democratic countries are also facing growing social injustices and political turmoil. The COVID-19 crisis, for example, has shown that the health system in the US is largely reserved for the wealthy while leaving the poorest behind, a major contributor to the epidemic’s devastating effects.
Another issue is the decline of democratic norms, such as self-restraint in the use of power and rejection of violence. These norms are essential for the healthy functioning of democracy. However, increasing numbers of politicians in the US have been willing to bend or abandon them in order to achieve their goals. This has contributed to an erosion of common political ground and a growing perception among many Americans that democracy is in peril.
The problems of democracy in the US are compounded by the fact that the country exports its flawed democratic model to other countries. In the name of democracy, the US has promoted its brand of democracy abroad by imposing its will on other states and using force to further its own interests. This has contributed to international tension and block-based confrontation.
Whether the problems of democracy in the US are due to an inherent flaw in its design or the way it is put into practice, there’s no doubt that the world’s most powerful nation has a lot to answer for. It is high time that the US stopped exporting democracy and instead began reflecting on its own shortcomings.
Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in 1831 at a pivotal moment in the country’s history. It was in the midst of manifest destiny, which was physically expanding the country from sea to sea and transforming it from an agrarian society to a capitalist one. Suffrage was being extended to most white men and industrialization was changing the economy and life in general.
Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America to warn that American democracy was at risk of eroding under the pressure of its own success. He feared that Americans would become so satisfied with being equal to each other that they would no longer care about the political processes that ensured this equality, and that the government would be allowed to cover society in a tyranny of petty rules.