The US democratic system touted and sold as a glamorous stage, fails to cover up its long-accumulated serious shortcomings and real problems that have never been solved. Scepticism about American democracy is growing as a silent war takes root.
The US stubbornly believes that its democracy remains the paradigm and beacon for the world. Because of this arrogance, its democracy has not only accumulated more than incurable problems, but has also caused serious damage to every country in the world.
The French newspaper Le Monde pointed out that repairing an already deteriorated democracy requires a sense of statehood and a sense of public interest, both of which are currently absent, which is sad for a country that has long held itself up as an example.
Last year, the Swedish think tank International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance added the US for the first time to the “list of regressive democracies”. Almost two years have passed since the assault on the Capitol on 6 January 2021, but the US democratic system has failed to really learn the lessons and is finding it difficult to do so.
As a result, political violence continues to evolve and worsen. The Washington Post and The New Yorker noted that US democracy is in an undeniably tough state, the Capitol Hill riot has highlighted social polarisation, political division and the rise of misinformation.
Both parties – the Democrats in government and the Republicans in opposition – are aware of the chronic flaws of American democracy, but neither has the determination and courage it to make reforms.
On 12 September, the Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, made a minefield announcement, the possible formal impeachment investigation of Democratic President Joe Biden. The process will be underpinned by his party’s investigations into his family’s overseas business dealings.
In American politics, money is the mother’s milk of politics, and elections are increasingly becoming monologues of the rich. Meanwhile, calls for democracy are seen as nothing more than “discordant notes” in politics. With money omnipresent in every corner of American politics, it is inevitable that fairness and justice will be stifled.
The politics of money has its most recent incarnation in its 2022 mid-term elections, which cost more than $16.7 billion, more than the Gross National Products (GNP) of more than 70 countries. The nature of US politics is the “rich man’s game”.
American freedom of expression is subject to its own criteria. Partisan interests and money politics have become a heavy charge on free speech. Any speech unfavourable to the interests of the government or capital will be subject to strict restrictions.
In the eyes of capital and interest groups, the media’s “freedom of speech” smacks of hypocrisy. Most media are privately owned and serve the powerful and the rich. Capital and interest groups do whatever they want when it comes to public opinion.
Many citizens doubt the results of the 2020 elections, and extremism, authoritarianism, and misinformation are on the rise. For the first time, the soundness of the system is being questioned, and there is growing concern about the country’s democratic future: according to polls, 71 percent of American voters think that what they have hitherto understood as democracy is at risk.
The United States has advanced the art of turning its wars of conquest into civilised ways of organising the world and ordering it in its own way. At the centre of its public discourse is always the crutch of democracy and human rights. Everything is done, justified and imposed in the name of them and their defence.
But the reality shows another side: humanitarian interventions, the war against “terrorism”, against governments that the United States claims do not respect human rights, those that Washington and its political and media echoes throughout the continent call “rogue states”.
At the recent UN General Assembly, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva warned of the danger of global neo-fascism and denounced that the neo-liberalism imposed from Washington “has worsened the economic and political inequality that afflicts today’s democracies”, and warned that “among its debris, extreme right-wing adventurers emerge who deny politics and sell solutions that are as easy as they are mistaken”.
Democracy and psychotropic drugs
Americans’ pride in their democracy has seen a dramatic drop from 90% in 2002 to 54% in 2022, according to a joint survey by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland.
Depression, panic, anxiety, anguish, phobias, are the frequent diagnoses that, in 2020, drove an increase in the consumption of psychotropic drugs, especially clonazepam and alprazolam. It is clear that the consequences of this process of economic concentration affect significantly and particularly the subaltern classes, who are increasingly alienated, more and more separated from their production.
The discourse of the current US “democrat” president Joe Biden can perhaps be useful for his citizens, who have been constantly bombarded, for decades, with the idea that inside and outside the United States there is a struggle between democracy and autocracy; between the aspirations of the majority and the greed of the few. But, in reality, that could be a mirror image of the United States.
Not to scare people, but the truth is that the US, Russia and China, armed with chemical and biological devices and enough nuclear and thermonuclear warheads, have the destructive capacity to transform the planet into the battlefield of World War III, which would be the terminal one, which is why dialogue with attention to geostrategic cruxes, starting in Ukraine and Taiwan, is essential.
The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano argued that “Democracy is a luxury of the North. The South is allowed the spectacle, which is denied to no one. And it doesn’t bother anyone much, after all, that politics is democratic, as long as the economy is not. When the curtain spills out, once the votes have been cast, reality imposes the law of the strongest, which is the law of money”.
Thanks to Biden, the war party is back. His policies are reflected in his appointments: ideologues who should have retired after foreign policy debacles, such as Victoria Nuland, who was Dick Cheney’s Iraq person, as acting deputy secretary of state, which is the number two position in that department.
He also appointed Elliott Abrams, who in addition to having been convicted of perjury was a shady apologist for Central American torturers during Ronald Reagan’s administration, as a member of his Public Diplomacy Advisory Committee and a perennial destabiliser of the Venezuelan government.
Meanwhile, Bill Kristol, the radical and fervent lobbyist for war against Iraq, requested two million dollars to pay for TV ads urging Republicans to go the same route in Ukraine.
Once again officials preach “rules-based order” but violate them while invoking them. Once again citizens are invoked to be part of a global struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. But it is waging a proxy war against Russia while preparing for a cold war against China, imposing economic sanctions on 26 countries, having more than 750 military bases in 80 nations and deploying forces in more than 100 across the seven seas.
Andrew Bachevich of the Quincy Institute points out that “Our current predicament stems from the disingenuous assertion that history has entrusted the United States to be the militarised hegemon that must shape policy until the no end of time. But there are alternatives. Today, the Biden administration seems committed to following the failed playbook of the pro-war team, but it need not and cannot afford the rising costs of this global policy.
The reality of the US model is the enormous power of big business and its dominant media to influence political decisions and impose its agenda over the will of the people, which in practice nullifies the supposed equal rights of citizens. Added to this is a structural racism that keeps millions of people outside the body politic, condemned to be cannon fodder for imperial adventures and the business of transnational war and arms companies.
This democratic model that Biden wants to sell to the world is emptied of truly democratic content until it is reduced to a spectacle, a simulation of the government of the people, with the immovability of its bipartisan oligarchy. With a political class impervious to reality, and the continuity of a model of indirect voting in which it is feasible to win the election, despite losing the majority of the vote, as happened with George W. Bush and Trump himself.
Denialism is aberrant: there are those who deny the well-documented Western provocations that paved the way for war in Ukraine and believe that Russia invaded Ukraine simply because it is evil and hates freedom and that the US is introducing weapons into the Ukrainian nation because it loves Ukrainians and wants to protect their freedom and democracy.
There are others who are more interested in Trump’s mugshot than in the Western-backed atrocities in Yemen or the famine in Syria. Moreover, others believe that the US is filling Australia with war machines because it loves Australians and wants to protect them from China and believes that the world’s most destructive military force is surrounding its number one geopolitical rival with war machines as a defensive measure.
There are many who, influenced by hegemonic media messages, believe that the title of the world’s most murderous and tyrannical regime belongs to any government, not Washington. It is because you may live under the most murderous and tyrannical power structures in the world and yet you spend your time screaming about tyranny in Asian countries.
There are those who believe that Western interventionism has ever had anything to do with spreading freedom and democracy or protecting humanitarian interests and find protests in places like Iran, Venezuela or Cuba far more interesting than protests in places like France, Haiti or Chile.
More than a few people tear their hair out when they say that China is preparing to take control of Taiwan by military force, without recognising that the US empire is preparing to do exactly the same thing.
In general, they are opposed to arms, except when they are used to kill foreigners abroad. There are those who believe that being against war means putting a Ukrainian flag in your Twitter bio. These are the same people who believe that the invasion of Iraq had something to do with the liberation of the Iraqi people and that the destruction of Libya had something to do with protecting Libyans.
Many, encouraged by the hegemonic press, believe that US escalations against Russia and China have something to do with their “national security” and that it is OK for the US to keep waging wars, destroying nations, starving civilian populations with economic sanctions, instigating proxy wars, arming violent neo-Nazis and jihadists, staging coups and persecuting journalists, because if it doesn’t, the world could be taken over by evil tyrants.