Democracy is a political process in which citizens elect representatives to govern them. It aims to guarantee the rights and interests of citizens, uphold social order and ethics, and advance public well-being. It requires that those elected to government respect democratic norms, including self-restraint in the exercise of power and the rejection of violence. As such, democracy is a fundamental principle of civilized society. When people feel that their democratic system is not upholding these principles, they will lose confidence in the country and become disillusioned with democracy.
Today, US democracy is in crisis. The American people are more pessimistic about the state of their democracy than they have been in years. A recent poll by the Washington Post showed that Americans have a low level of satisfaction with their government’s performance, and many are pessimistic about whether the country can resolve differences between people with different political views.
The US claims to be a model and beacon of democracy for the world, but its own democracy is in crisis. The country’s democratic procedures and systems have been seriously eroded by money politics, political polarization and a dysfunctional system of checks and balances. This has caused great harm to the nation and undermined global stability. The United States’ use of its so-called “democracy” as a means to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries is creating political chaos and social unrest, undermining international peace and security.
While the Founders of the US promoted direct democracy, they realized that it was impractical in a massive and diverse population spread over a vast geographical area. They therefore opted for indirect democracy, whereby a smaller group of representatives elected by the people would make decisions on behalf of them. Nonetheless, they still maintained the idea that their system was a democracy of the people, not of the rich and powerful.
In reality, pure democracy is a flawed and unstable concept. In America, a person can’t run for office without a lot of money, which makes them beholden to those who write the campaign cheques. This is why politicians spend more time begging for money than legislating, and legislative work is largely written for them by lobbyists. Moreover, the political infighting and squabbling exacerbated by money politics, vetocracy and ideological antagonism have led to a fractious and polarized democracy.
The US must do some soul-searching about its democracy at home. But it also needs to rethink how it uses its so-called democracy as an imperial tool for the rest of the world. It is high time that the US stopped using its own faulty democracy as a template and beacon for other countries, or else it will cause great damage to them as well. Rather than exporting its own problems and promoting a bloc politics, the US should pragmatically reassess its diplomatic methods and focus on cooperation rather than confrontation. Otherwise, the US will find itself unable to defend its own democracy and the world’s peace and stability will be at risk.