Prospect of US-style democracy dims as Americans have less faith in their system
Published: Oct 23, 2022 10:18 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US always portrays itself as the defender of democracy across the world. Ironically, with the midterm elections just around the corner, results of many opinion polls suggest that an increasing number of Americans are concerned with the accuracy of the midterm elections and the fate of US-style democracy. In essence, this is because the US-style democracy deviates from its original intention and has become a political game.

According to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only about half of Americans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming midterm elections will be counted accurately, and just 9 percent of US adults think democracy is working "extremely" or "very well," while 52 percent say it's not working well. 

The result of a New York Times/Siena College poll indicates that 28 percent of all voters said they had little to no faith in the accuracy of this year's midterm elections. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans think the nation's democracy is on the brink of collapse.

A critical factor for Americans to lose confidence in the mid-term elections as well as in US-style democracy is that they have figured out that whoever they vote for, they cannot elect a problem-solver. Many Americans abhor the wheeling-and-dealing associated with political life, in which selfish politicians only care about their own rights and interests and merely serve their political parties and interest groups, instead of striving to address issues that voters really care about. In the view of many Americans, voting is futile and pointless.

Today, US-style democracy is morbid. An increasing number of Americans have been clearly aware that in the eyes of US politicians, they are a group of instruments for votes. During election campaigns, these politicians tend to make many sensational promises in a bid to gain more support, but in the aftermath of the election, the majority of these promises turn out to be lip services as they would put what they said to voters behind themselves. Election is just a political game of the rich.

The US public's distrust of democracy is the result of US' political decay. At the heart of this political decay is the absence of government capacity, characterized by a lack of solutions to pressing issues of public concern, such as economic development, racism, gun violence, prevention and control of COVID-19, and abortion, a Shanghai-based international relations expert told the Global Times, requesting anonymity. 

The US electoral system has many flaws and loopholes. When the US economy was thriving, the politicians' rhetoric and practices in concealing the flaws of their domestic political system could fool the US public. But today, when more problems have been exposed in the US, such as the COVID-19 epidemic that's out of control, resulting in more than 1.06 million deaths, and inflation reaching its highest rate since 1982, the loopholes of US political system cannot be disguised any longer. 

Additionally, in the face of China's rise and the relative decline of the US, many Americans have begun to doubt whether their system is as perfect as their politicians advocate. Furthermore, the Trump phenomenon is now spreading across the country, and some US politicians have begun to manipulate US' populism, making the domestic democratic system encounter unprecedented challenges.

Some US politicians still insist that the US political system is "the best in the world," and it has the capacity for self-correction and adjustment. But it is noticeable that when these opinion polls found that the Americans' confidence in voting has decreased, there seems to be no political figure or political force in the US embarking on tackling this problem. 

The US has never been in shortage of the ones who raise questions, but few of them have their feet on the ground to solve problems. To a certain extent, the ones who put forward questions also intend to exploit them as a tool to accuse and attack the target they are aiming at, rather than to solve the problem. Existing loopholes in US electoral or democratic system require political and legal reforms, but there seems to be little momentum to achieving so. The prospect of US-style democracy is dim.