Full text: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016 (3)

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/3/9 14:37:35

II. Political Rights Undermined

In 2016, money politics and power-for-money deals had controlled the presidential election, which was full of lies and farces. There were no guarantees of political rights, while the public responded with waves of boycott and protests, giving full exposure of the hypocritical nature of US democracy.

Voter turnout and support rate reached new low. Only about 55 percent of voting age citizens cast ballots in the 2016 election, lowest in 20 years (edition.cnn.com, November 30, 2016). A growing number of Americans were disappointed or even angry about the election. Pew research conducted prior to the election showed that many of the voters who planned on coming to the polls were angry. Those who didn't vote this time went beyond alienation to antipathy -- a complete aversion and dislike for things political (www.huffingtonpost.com, December 6, 2016).

Most Expensive Election Ever. Americans who are running for federal elective offices spent more than ever -- about 6.8 billion US dollars. That's more than what consumers spend on cereal (6 billion US dollars). Candidates seeking House and Senate and the independent groups supporting them are expected to shell out 410 million US dollars more than during the 2012 presidential election (www.cbsnews.com, November 8, 2016). According to the website of the Washington Post, Clinton's campaign had raised 1.4 billion US dollars by the end of November 2016, while Trump's had raised 932 million US dollars (www.washingtonpost.com, December 9, 2016). CNN reported that 2016 was "the year when money won nobody nothing," and "a golden age to be a man of means" (us.cnn.com, November 12, 2016). Money politics had triggered nationwide protests, in which many were arrested by the police.

Media failed to be objective and impartial. US media published a lot of biased reports and commentaries during the 2016 election, fully demonstrating their failure in staying objective or impartial. The media clearly chose their side in covering the election. Among the top 100 newspapers based on daily circulation, 57 endorsed the Democratic nominee while 2 the Republican, according to data revealed by the media endorsements count conducted by University of California, Santa Barbara. A poll made by Quinnipiac University on October 19, 2016 also found that the news media was biased in its coverage of the presidential election, a feeling shared by 55 percent of American likely voters, including about 90 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independent voters (poll.qu.edu, October 19, 2016).

III. Grim Living Conditions of Low- and Middle-income Americans

In 2016, the US social polarization became more serious, with the proportion of adults who had full-time jobs hitting a new low since 1983 (www.gallup.com, September 20, 2016), income gaps continuing to widen, the size of middle class reaching a turning point and beginning to shrink (bigstory.ap.org, May 12, 2016), and living conditions of the lower class deteriorating.

Income gaps continued to widen. On May 17, 2016, the website of The Guardian reported that the US top 500 chief executive officers (CEOs) earned 340 times the average worker's wage in 2015. Adjusted for inflation, wages of ordinary workers remained stagnant for 50 years. (www.theguardian.com, May 17, 2016) The businessinsider.com revealed that while CEOs of the 350 largest US companies grew by about 940 percent from 1978 to 2015 after adjusting for inflation, the typical worker's pay grew just 10 percent over that time (www.businessinsider.com, August 15, 2016). The website of the Wall Street Journal reported that over the past 30 years, nearly 70 percent of incomes went to the 10 percent richest Americans, which was called the most astonishing "economic achievement" in recent years by The Time sarcastically (www.newser.com, December 8, 2016).

The middle class shrank. The Wall Street Journal reported that 92 percent of people born in 1940 earned more at 30 years old than their parents did when they were the same age. However, for people born in 1980, that percentage dropped to 51. (www.newser.com, December 8, 2016) According to consulting firm Gallup, the percentage of Americans who said they were in the middle or upper-middle class had fallen by 10 percentage points, from an average of 61 percent between 2000 and 2008 to 51 percent in 2016. That drop meant 25 million people in the United States fared much worse in economic terms. (www.gallup.com, September 20, 2016) According to a Pew Research Center report released on May 11, 2016, the American middle class was no longer the majority at nearly 25 percent of large cities (bigstory.ap.org, May 12, 2016). From 2000 to 2014, the share of adults living in middle-class households fell by 4 percentage points nationally, and declined by 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas (www.pewsocialtrends.org, May 11, 2016). A Pew survey showed 62 percent of 1,500 surveyed adults said the government had not cared enough about the middle class (www.pewsocialtrends.org, February 4, 2016). (more)


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