US defective electoral system is losing its appeal
Published: Sep 17, 2021 09:05 PM
Crumbling US democracy. Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Crumbling US democracy. Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

According to The Washington Post, fencing around the US Capitol will be reinstalled "a day or two" before a rally on Saturday, when demonstrators plan to demand "justice" for those arrested during the January 6 riots.

Since the unrest at the US Capitol, social chaos in the US has gradually calmed down. But the US public has increasingly doubted the Biden administration's ability to govern their country due to its poor performance handling both domestic and foreign affairs. This has reignited suspicion among Republican political elites and Donald Trump's supporters that the election was "stolen."

According to the latest poll done by CNN, among Republicans, 78 percent say that Biden did not win, while 54 percent believe that there is solid evidence of that, even though no such evidence has been made public. 

Questions about the outcome of last year's presidential election have been amplified again, reflecting the unbridgeable gap between US political elites and everyday voters. Biden's attempts to narrow the US' deep political divisions will fail. The upcoming rally will unleash a new wave of political defamation in the US.

Trump's supporters are not going to the streets to heal US divisions or put their country back on the right track. On the contrary, it is a campaign boost for Trump, or the populist wing of the Republican Party, so that Republicans can regain some of their advantages in next year's midterm elections.

The CNN poll also said that 56 percent of Americans think democracy in the US is "under attack." Ever since the 2016 US presidential election, people's impression of the US election system can be summarized using one word: ridiculous. Elections are no longer about addressing macro solutions to the country's challenges. Instead, they are about name-calling, cursing, and denigrating candidates and their supporters.

The US presidential election in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton was a campaign of personal aggression that reflected the hideous side of American democratic practice. The presidential election in 2020 once again proved that US politics are not about solving problems. Trump was voted out from the US presidency, as many expected. However, after Trump left office, there has been no way for the US system to hold former US officials accountable for their failure to control the COVID-19 epidemic.

Instead, those politicians who created this very tragedy at home continue to do nothing to help with the epidemic control. In fact, they keep using COVID-19 to gain political capital for themselves. This reveals the quality of US electoral politics is so low that many of those elected are clowns who care for nothing but their own interests.

It seems that the US electoral system is falling apart after more than 200 years. US democracy has indeed reached a dead end: It is unable to clean its Augean stables. This is undoubtedly a tragedy for the US.

According to the CNN poll, 51 percent of Americans believe "it is likely that elected officials in the US will successfully overturn the results of a future election because their party did not win." As for the series of changes to voting rules and regulations at the state level, 25 percent of Americans say that both parties are acting in their own best interest, and just 12 percent say that both sides are acting to make elections fairer. 

The American electoral system revolves around party politics, so it is difficult to avoid interference from partisan struggles. US politicians participate in elections to guarantee their future political career and the governance of their party. This is completely contrary to the focus of the US political system when it was first established - to defend national security and seek development and interests for the people. This shows that the US should really start to rethink about how to adjust and reform its political system. But indeed, it is very hard for the US to do so now.

In the internet era, the US' ridiculous electoral politics and deep opposition among US voters are broadcast to the wider world. If even American people do not accept the outcome of their election in the future, then no one would believe the US when it brags about its own merits. In the past, people might believe that the US' politics could gradually overcome its own shortcomings. But it turns out these shortcomings have instead become stubborn problems that cannot be overcome. The US system is losing its appeal and more. 

The author is professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn