January 6 Global Hearings: The Problem Paradox of American Democracy

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On the one hand, American democracy seems unquestionably rough. Polarization intensified. Misinformation and mistrust are widespread. IN divided public response to evidence and testimony comes out in January. Six congressional hearings in Congress show a lack of national consensus on a key element of democratic life: the ability to transfer power peacefully from one elected government to the next.

Analysts warn that the aging electoral systems of the United States have passed gerrymandering and other anti-democratic practices He began to back away more and more results that encourage further tribalismdeepening the sense of zero-sum antagonism, the winner takes everything that passes through the political body.

Where there is bipartisan unity, it is in the growing despair and pessimism felt by most Americans about their political status quo. or a recent Yahoo News / YouGov poll found that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans believed it was “likely” that the United States would “cease to be a democracy in the future.” Two out of 5 Americans according to another studythey would now support a military coup if they believed the circumstances justified such an intervention.

Yet the United States under President Biden may still appear to people elsewhere in the world as a bulwark of liberal democratic values. Many European employees have welcomes the unique role of the United States in encouraging Western governments to oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequently to defend the international order. Far beyond arms transfers, the Biden administration sees its efforts as part of a broader struggle for liberalism and democracy around the world.

“America and all those who share our values ​​… must build on the unity we have demonstrated in Ukraine to try to spread a wider revolution in the dignity of the people who seek freedom,” said Samantha Power. Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. speech last week.

The end of the road to American exclusivity

This can even be a difficult task at home, where all talk is about democratic retreat. Despite the outrage and inquiries that followed Jan. 6, 2021, Uprising, Republican Party as a whole seems to be doubling on the false claims of former President Donald Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It is pouring millions into new efforts in different states to hire pollsters and observers to detect irregularities and potentially challenge the ballots and the legitimacy of certain votes.

neither reported by my colleagues, more than 100 Republican officials and politicians who won the last primary election appear to support Trump’s false allegations of fraud. “Many will take positions with the power to interfere in the results of future competitions – to block the certification of election results, to change the rules around the awarding of electoral votes to their states or to agree to litigation, trying to cancel the referendum. , “They wrote.

Americans are brought up to believe that their nation’s constitutional checks and balances protect their democracy. But experts point out the basic rules that help ensure these precautions. In times of bitter polarization, these norms are shattered with dire consequences.

“When these soft norms get worse; in other words, one party says, “We can’t win with these rules,” and they start acting like a minority seeking majority power, then you get the real risks to democracy in America, “said Harvard political scientist Pippa Norris. talk led by Niskanen Centercentrist think tank, earlier this year.

Norris highlighted the apparent “structural” shortcomings in the country’s policy that allowed Republicans to secure enormous power for their share of the vote, including the Senate, which leans disproportionately toward America’s rural areas. At a time when the party’s base seems to be moving towards what some comparative policy scholars have called a form of “authoritarian far-right” policythis is particularly worrying.

The war in Ukraine highlights a moment of democratic crisis

This trend has been measured in different ways from political scientists. The latest proposal came this month from the Berggruen Institute, a Los Angeles-based think tank that published along with UCLA researchers this month “management index” which monitors the quality of life, governance and democracy in 134 countries over the past 20 years.

Although its overall index score remains quite high, the estimated decline in the United States over the past two decades has been one of the largest, along with countries such as Haiti and Hungary over that period. The think tank measures significant declines in US “state capacity” and “democratic accountability” – the first measure can be roughly described as the country’s ability to implement collective reforms, and the second as a measure of the strength of checks and balances, from electoral integrity to efficiency of civil society and the media.

“The decline in US state capacity and democratic accountability is not unique, but it is rare in developed economies,” researchers Marcus Lang and Edward Knudson wrote in an email.

“There is some stagnation in democratic accountability among developed countries,” they added. “However, the steep decline of the United States is unusual: its path is parallel to Brazil, Hungary and Poland much closer than that of Western Europe or other rich English-speaking countries.”

Another study published this week tells a very different story. or Study of the Eurasia Group Foundation out of 5,000 respondents in nine major countries around the world – including Brazil, Nigeria, Germany and India – found optimistic views of American democracy under the Biden administration. More than half of the respondents believe that their country’s political systems should be more like the United States; 60 percent believe that American democracy sets a positive example for the world; and nearly three-quarters of those polled said they would prefer the United States to remain the world’s leading power over China.

Some of these results can be attributed to the greater global popularity of Biden and the earlier Democrats, too-tough figures like Trump. These views could easily change after two upcoming election cycles in which Republicans appear to be gaining momentum.

“Everyone is fighting the issue,” said Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of Finland, last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “What’s the footnote in the story?” Biden or Trump? “

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