The State of Democracy in America

democracy in america

The US democracy is in a state of crisis. Its decline is accelerated by its inherent problems, such as economic inequality and growing anti-government sentiment. It is also undermined by its internal political polarization and the erosion of the norms that govern behavior in democratic societies, such as self-restraint in the exercise of power and rejection of violence. According to a 2022 report by the Brookings Institution, American democracy is in serious danger of breaking down. Those who care about democracy in the world should take note of its current troubles.

American democracy is a de facto two-party system with ideological and demographic divisions that are deepening. A polarized political environment is destroying the traditional inter-party balance based on policy compromise. Instead, the Democrats and Republicans have become rivals, each fighting for a limited number of voters and a narrow base of ideology. The result is a fragmented society, a disunited Congress and a divided nation.

In addition, the political class in America is dominated by a small elite who control government agencies and policy-making, dominate the business community, manipulate public opinion, control the media and enjoy many privileges. This is a typical characteristic of authoritarian regimes that have replaced democratic ones in many parts of the world. The elites in America also control the political parties and manipulate the electoral process to their advantage. Ordinary citizens have no say in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and interests.

Despite these serious challenges, the US still has an important role to play in the international arena. It can undertake more international responsibilities and provide more public goods to the world. It can also make a positive contribution to the spread of democracy in the world.

For example, it can promote and support electoral democracy in other countries as a way to help people escape from dictatorships. It can also promote the concept of a rule-of-law foreign policy in the world, rather than using military force to install pro-US governments. However, it should not impose its own brand of democracy on other countries or use its values to divide the world into two camps of democracies and autocracies.

The United States should continue to promote democracy because people in democratic countries generally live better than those in nondemocracies. Compared to inhabitants of nondemocracies, those living in democracies enjoy greater personal freedom and political stability, less poverty and hunger, a higher quality of life and fewer risks of war.

Moreover, Americans can help to improve the lives of people in other countries by supporting a wide range of governmental and nongovernmental efforts to relieve hunger, poverty and disease. This can help to develop cosmopolitan ethical sentiments among the American population, making it more likely that they will accept some bonds of common humanity and feel an obligation to foreigners. Similarly, continued public concern about human rights violations in other countries and heightened awareness of the suffering of refugees are further evidence that the US has a responsibility to improve the lives of people all over the globe.