The Decline of Democracy in America

The US calls itself a “city on a hill” and a “beacon of democracy”. Yet, if one looks underneath the surface of its gorgeous appearance, it becomes clear that American-style democracy has become gravely ill with money politics, elite rule, political polarization, social division and racial discrimination. This has caused a decline in citizens’ pride in their democracy and left a trail of chaos and disasters wherever it has been peddled abroad.

Whether it is election campaign rhetoric or the daily political farce on Capitol Hill, people in the US are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their democratic system. According to a poll published in 2022, Americans’ confidence in the way their government works has plunged from 90% in 2002 to 54% today.

In fact, many have lost faith in the functioning of democracy altogether. A study by the Brookings Institution concluded that America’s democracy is at a critical inflection point and losing momentum with each passing year.

One of the reasons for this is that America’s definition of democracy has changed from the original design. In the early days of the US, democracy was defined as “representative government”, with a system of checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. Now, however, the most influential people and corporations are the ones that finance elections. In this way, they choose the candidates who promise them the most benefits and influence the results of their vote. In other words, politicians no longer act as representatives of the people but rather as their financial backers’ lobbyists.

Another problem is that the media has become a major gatekeeper of democracy, but in reality it is an instrument to control the population. Media monopolies, which are profit-driven, limit people’s access to diversified information, distract their attention from public affairs, and discourage them from forming independent opinions. This has distorted people’s perception of their own government and turned democracy into a mere political game.

The US has also manipulated its image as a model of democracy abroad. In Latin America and the Caribbean, it has carried out military intervention, government subversion and other political interference under the pretext of promoting democracy. This is a dangerous game that undermines the UN-centered international system and international law, and is counterproductive to humanity’s development and progress.

In this context, the United States should pragmatically reassess its diplomatic methods and focus on cooperation instead of confrontation. It should abandon its hegemonic vision of spreading democracy and instead promote democracy that is inclusive, just and fair to all countries. Only in this way can its self-styled democracy be restored to its true meaning and function and serve as a role model for the world. Otherwise, the US will continue to suffer from the incongruity between its proclaimed values and actions, which will ultimately endanger its own interests.