By Zhang Zhou
In 2022, the vicious cycle of democratic pretensions, dysfunctional politics and a divided society continued in the United States. Problems such as money politics, identity politics, social rifts, and the gulf between the rich and poor worsened. The maladies afflicting American democracy deeply infected the cells of US politics and society, and further revealed US governance failure and institutional defects.
-- American democracy in further decline
The functioning of American democratic institutions may look as lively as a circus, with politicians of all stripes showing off themselves one after another. But however boisterous the show is, it cannot hide the lethargy in addressing the long-standing, grave problems.
-- Political polarization intensified by partisan fights
Amid the escalating political battles, politicians put the interests of their political parties and factions above those of the country and acted in an unbridled way to attack and pin blames on each other.
-- Money politics surged
In the US, money is the breast milk of politics and elections increasingly morph into monologues of the wealthy, while the public call for democracy is made only “a jarring note”. With the devil of money lurking in every corner of American politics, fairness and justice is naturally strained.
--“Freedom of speech” in name only
The United States has always prided itself on free speech. In reality, however, freedom of speech in the United States is upheld according to self-centered “US standards”. Partisan interest and money politics have become the “two big mountains” that weigh on free speech. Any speech that is detrimental to the interests of the US government or capital is subject to strict restrictions.
-- The judicial system blind to public opinion
As an institution undergirding the country’s Constitution, the US Supreme Court, like the American society, has become deeply divided. Judicial power is hijacked by public opinion, and partisan struggle has spread to the judicial system. Increasingly, Supreme Court decisions reflect the huge chasm between “two Americas”—the conservatives and liberals, and have been reduced to a tool of political warfare.
-- Americans increasingly disillusioned with American democracy
Americans’ pride in their democracy has dropped sharply, from 90% in 2002 to 54% in 2022, according to a joint Washington Post-University of Maryland survey. A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that Californian voters have widespread concern that American democracy is going off track, with 62% saying the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Source: The State of Democracy in the United States: 2022
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