by Xinhua writer Ma Qian
BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- The United States has long been habitually touting itself as the "beacon of democracy," yet as the world has increasingly come to realize, America's democratic system is only in form, not in substance.
One does not have to be a political scientist to understand that the ultimate yardstick of good democracy is whether it can actually represent and serve the fundamental interests of the people. Even judging from this most basic standard, the American way is hardly the "envy of the world." And the coming so-called "democracy summit" staged by Washington can neither repair the damaged image nor salvage the decaying core of the American-style democracy.
On the surface, the American politics takes the form of "one person, one vote." Yet the truth is that elections in the United States has been captured by the deep pockets and the highly privileged. The ordinary Americans are in fact disenfranchised.
"The people do not govern. Politicians respond almost exclusively to the desires of special interests and the wealthiest citizens," lamented Charles Wheelan, a senior lecturer at the Rockefeller Center at U.S. Dartmouth College, calling American democracy "an illusion."
In a pure game of money, the cost of U.S. political elections has registered one record after another these years. During the last election season, the presidential campaign saw a record high of 6.6 billion U.S. dollars in total spending, while congressional races finished with over 7 billion dollars.
And don't expect the wealthy to funnel money towards the welfare of the people. They do so to maximize their own interests through the officials they help get elected.
The American public nowadays has to grapple with the fact that the economic inequality in the country has been turned into gaps in political privileges. Only the rich can enjoy the democratic rights promised in the U.S. Constitution.
A bigger tragedy with the American political system is its growing sclerotic state. The system is losing the basic ability to reform itself, build consensus, solve problems and promote social equity and justice.
With flourishing political tribalism and the rise of the politics of denial, America's political parties have become almost cult-like. American politicians increasingly excel in opposing their opponents simply for the sake of opposing. For many, reaching across the partisan line is seen as shameful while filibustering a meaningful bill from the other party is a badge of honor.
That is why politicians of both parties cannot find ways to bring an end to the pandemic that has claimed more American lives than the U.S. death toll in both World Wars, the Vietnam War and 9/11 combined. The gnawing divide is why the parties cannot work together to eradicate deeply-entrenched racial discrimination nor have little room for compromise to end rampant gun violence and bridge the ever-widening wealth gap.
Americans and people elsewhere have begun to realize the serious problems plaguing America's democratic system.
A recent study by the Robert Bosch Foundation in Germany found that over half of Americans think the democratic system does not function at all under the current circumstances. Also alarmingly, a recent poll by U.S. broadcaster NPR shows that 81 percent of U.S. adults said the future of U.S. democracy is under threat.
"A government of the people, by the people, for the people," an ideal then U.S. President Abraham Lincoln spoke in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, is often quoted to describe America's democracy.
However, it is regrettably clear that the American people are just walk-ons in the country's deeply-flawed election games tightly controlled by deep-pocketed and other vested interests groups. A government ruled by the people is hardly possible in America today.
Considering the growing rigidity of America's political system that is in desperate need of reform, change is elusive at best. But one thing is clear: the myth of American democracy has been busted. Enditem