The decline of American democracy also reflects the failure of the economic system


Illustration: Tang Tengfei / Global Times

US President Joe Biden’s exclusive Democracy Summit, which was even ignored by some US allies, sparked a rare global discussion about what true democracy is and whether the US can still stand for democracy. . The issues would not have sparked much controversy just a few years ago, when the United States was proclaimed the “beacon of democracy.” But what the world has witnessed in recent years is the rapid decline of American democracy.

Biden clearly intended to use the summit to bolster US dominance in the so-called “free world” and eclipse rapidly growing competitors like China, but the event, instead, has sparked much criticism and doubts about the American system, as many around the world, including the allies of the United States, and within the United States largely focused on the deterioration of American democracy and the serious threats to which she is facing the future.

As I followed the discussions, a rather random name came to mind several times: Ashli ​​Babbitt, a 36-year-old American who was gunned down during the protests at the United States Capitol. January 6, 2021. After his death, numerous media reports recounted his journey which led to that deadly day.

An American veteran who spent 14 years in the US Air Force and served in two wars, Babbitt was in serious financial difficulty. She owned a pool cleaning business in California, and to keep her small business afloat, she took out a short-term loan with an interest rate of 169%. She failed to repay the $ 65,000 loan soon after signing the agreement and was sued by the lender. Then she started following conspiracy theories online, which led to her death at the seat of American democracy.

Babbitt’s tragic story is the personification of the failure and false promise of American democracy. She lost her life during a protest against the result of the US presidential election that installed a president she did not choose. She thought it was her right in the American democratic system to choose her own political leader and protest if she didn’t agree, but she was wrong and paid the ultimate price. His action – and the January 6 protest – was viewed by the mainstream media and American elites as an insurgency and an attack on American democracy.

What’s more tragic is that the reason she died – preventing Biden from becoming president and re-electing Donald Trump – wouldn’t have solved any of her financial problems. This brings us to the crippling economic governance of the United States which fails to satisfy many ordinary Americans like Babbitt and has even forced them to make difficult and sometimes deadly choices.

There is no doubt that the United States is still the largest economy in the world, and its overall economic and technological strength is still unmatched. However, the US economy faces a litany of increasingly existential problems – an ever-widening wealth gap that benefits only the top 1% and leaves the rest in economic despair, a non-existent manufacturing sector, rapidly declining technological innovation, collapsing infrastructure, growing debts and so on.

Many of these issues were laid bare during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the richest 400 Americans added $ 4.5 trillion to their wealth, a 40% increase, even as most Americans struggled, according to Forbes. Around 2015, the share of total net worth held by the richest 1% of Americans exceeded that held by the poorest 90% and this divergence has only worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Quartz.

Certainly, many countries around the world are facing similar issues to those facing the United States, including China. What sets the United States apart, however, is its crippling system of economic governance which has provided no solutions to these problems, let alone effective and workable solutions. On everything – from taxes to government spending, Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers can’t agree on anything and have been bogged down for years.

By comparison, China, which also faces many economic challenges, is moving swiftly to counter emerging challenges, while listing many long-term development goals backed by specific action plans, such as prosperity goals. common and carbon neutral. Whether or not these major goals are achieved, the path for China is very clear, unlike the United States, where there is no long-term development plan to speak of.

As we have seen in recent years, the race between China and the United States is ultimately about the efficiency of their markedly different systems. It will not be determined by which country advertises its system the most, as the Democracy Summit aimed to do, but rather by which country can act for its people.

The author is an editor at the Global Times. [email protected]