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China Foreign Affairs: The State of Democracy in the United States 中国外交部:美国民主情况

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The State of Democracy in the United States
2021-12-05 10:00
Contents

Preamble

I. What is democracy?

II. The alienation and three malaises of democracy in the US
1. The system fraught with deep-seated problems

(1) American-style democracy has become “a game of money politics”
(2) “One person one vote” in name, “rule of the minority elite” in reality
(3) The checks and balances have resulted in a “vetocracy”
(4) The flawed electoral rules impair fairness and justice
(5) Dysfunctional democracy triggers trust crisis

2. Messy and chaotic practices of democracy
(1) The Capitol riot that shocks the world
(2) Entrenched racism
(3) Tragic mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic
(4) Widening wealth gap
(5) “Freedom of speech” in name only

3. Disastrous consequences of US export of its brand of democracy
(1) The “color revolutions” undermine regional and national stability
(2) The US imposition of its brand of democracy causes humanitarian tragedies
(3) The abuse of sanctions breaches international rules
(4) The “beacon of democracy” draws global criticism

Conclusion


Preamble


Democracy is a common value shared by all humanity. It is a right for all nations, not a prerogative reserved to a few. Democracy takes different forms, and there is no one-size-fits-all model. It would be totally undemocratic to measure the diverse political systems in the world with a single yardstick or examine different political civilizations from a single perspective. The political system of a country should be independently decided by its own people.
The United States’ system of democracy is derived from its own practices. This system is unique, not universally applicable, and it is far from perfect. However, over the years, the US, despite the structural flaws and problematic practice of its democratic system, has claimed itself as the “model of democracy”. It has incessantly interfered in other countries’ internal affairs and waged wars under the guise of “democracy”, creating regional turbulence and humanitarian disasters.
Based on facts and expert opinions, this report aims to expose the deficiencies and abuse of democracy in the US as well as the harm of its exporting such democracy. It is hoped that the US will improve its own system and practices of democracy and change its way of interacting with other countries. This is in the interest of not only the American people, but also the people of other countries. If no country seeks to dictate standards for democracy, impose its own political system on others or use democracy as a tool to suppress others, and when all countries can live and thrive in diversity, our world will be a better place.

I. What is democracy?

Democracy is a term that derives from the ancient Greek language. It means “rule by the people” or “sovereignty of the people”. As a form of government, democracy has been practiced for over 2,500 years, though in different forms, such as direct democracy of the ancient Athenian citizens and representative government in modern times. Democracy is a manifestation of the political advancement of humanity.
Democracy is not an adornment or publicity stunt; rather, it is meant to be used to solve problems faced by the people. To judge whether a country is democratic, it is important to see whether its people run their own country. In addition to voting rights, it is important to see whether people have the rights to extensive participation. It is important to see what promises are made in an election campaign and, more importantly, how many of those promises are honored afterwards. It is important to see what political procedures and rules are instituted by a country’s systems and laws and, more importantly, whether these systems and laws are truly executed. It is important to see whether the rules and procedures governing the exercise of power are democratic and, more importantly, whether power is truly put under the oversight and checks of the people.
A functional democracy must have a full set of institutional procedures; more importantly, it should have full participation of the people. It must ensure democracy in terms of both process and outcomes. It must encompass both procedural and substantive democracy, both direct and indirect democracy. It must ensure both people’s democracy and the will of the State. If the people of a country are only called upon to vote and then are forgotten once they have cast their votes; if the people only hear high-sounding promises during an election campaign but have no say whatsoever afterwards; or if they are wooed when their votes are wanted but are ignored once the election is over, then such a democracy is not a true democracy.
Whether a country is democratic should be judged and determined by its own people, not by a minority of self-righteous outsiders.
There is no perfect system of democracy in the world, nor is there a political system that fits all countries. Democracy is established and developed based on a country’s own history and adapted to its national context, and each country’s democracy has its unique value. Members of the international community should engage in exchanges and dialogues on democracy on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and work together to contribute to the progress of humanity.

II. The alienation and three malaises of democracy in the US

From a historical perspective, the development of democracy in the US was a step forward. The political party system, the representative system, one person one vote, and the separation of powers negated and reformed the feudal autocracy in Europe. The well-known French writer Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this in his book Democracy in America. The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, abolitionist movement, civil rights movement and affirmative action were highlights in the advancement of American democracy. The principle of “government of the people, by the people and for the people” articulated by Abraham Lincoln is recognized worldwide.
However, over the years, democracy in the US has become alienated and degenerated, and it has increasingly deviated from the essence of democracy and its original design. Problems like money politics, identity politics, wrangling between political parties, political polarization, social division, racial tension and wealth gap have become more acute. All this has weakened the functioning of democracy in the US.
The US has often used democracy as a pretext to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs, causing political chaos and social unrest in these countries, and undermining world peace and stability and social tranquility in other countries. This makes many people in the US and other countries wonder if the US is still a democracy. The world needs to take a closer look at the current state of democracy in the US, and the US itself should also conduct some soul-searching.
1. The system fraught with deep-seated problems

The US calls itself “city upon a hill” and a “beacon of democracy”; and it claims that its political system was designed to defend democracy and freedom at the time of its founding. Yet, the vision of democracy has lost its shine in the US today. The self-styled American democracy is now gravely ill with money politics, elite rule, political polarization and a dysfunctional system.

(1) American-style democracy has become “a game of money politics”
The American-style democracy is a rich men’s game based on capital, and is fundamentally different from democracy of the people.
Over a hundred years ago, Republican Senator from Ohio Mark Hanna said of American politics: “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember the second.” More than one hundred years have passed, and money has not only remained “the currency” in US politics, but also become even more indispensable. For example, the 2020 presidential election and Congressional elections cost some US$14 billion, two times that of 2016 and three times that of 2008; indeed, they are known as the most expensive elections in American history. The cost of the presidential election reached another record high of US$6.6 billion, and the Congressional elections cost over US$7 billion.
The fact that the American people have to face is that money politics has penetrated the entire process of election, legislation and administration. People in fact only have a restricted right to political participation. The inequality in economic status has been turned into inequality in political status. Only people with enough capital can enjoy their democratic rights provided by the Constitution. Money politics have increasingly become an “irremovable tumor” in American society and a mockery of democracy in the US.
A US Senator had a sharp observation, “Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress.” According to statistics, winners of 91% of US Congressional elections are the candidates with greater financial support. Big companies, a small group of rich people, and interest groups are generous with their support and have become the main source of electoral funding. And those so-called representatives of the people, once elected, often serve the interests of their financial backers. They speak for vested interests rather than the ordinary people.
In March 2020, Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor, published a book entitled The System, Who Rigged It, How We Fix It. According to him, the American political system has been hijacked by a tiny minority over the past four decades. Political donations are almost seen as “legitimate bribery”. They enable the rich to have more political clout. During the 2018 midterm elections, the huge political donations, mostly coming from the top 0.01% ultra-rich of the American population, accounted for over 40% of campaign finance. Money politics and lobby groups are restricting channels for ordinary Americans to speak out, whose voices expressing genuine concerns are overshadowed by a handful of interest groups. The oligarchs would enrich themselves with the power they have got while totally ignoring the interests of ordinary Americans.
On 23 September 2020, in an interview with Harvard Law Today, Harvard Law School Professor Matthew Stephenson said that the US is by no means the world leader in clean government, and certain practices related to lobbying and campaign finance that other countries would consider corrupt are not only permitted but constitutionally protected in the US.

(2)  “One person one vote” in name, “rule of the minority elite” in reality
The US is a typical country dominated by an elite class. Political pluralism is only a facade. A small number of elites dominate the political, economic and military affairs. They control the state apparatus and policy-making process, manipulate public opinion, dominate the business community and enjoy all kinds of privileges. Since the 1960s in particular, the Democrats and Republicans have taken turns to exercise power, making the “multiparty system” dead in all but name. For ordinary voters, casting their votes to a third party or an independent candidate is nothing more than wasting the ballot. In effect, they can only choose either the Democratic candidate or the Republican one.
In the context of Democratic-Republican rivalry, the general public’s participation in politics is restricted to a very narrow scope. For ordinary voters, they are only called upon to vote and are forgotten once they have cast their ballots. Most people are just “walk-ons” in the theater of election. This makes “government by the people” hardly possible in US political practice.
Noam Chomsky, a political commentator and social activist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points out that the US is a “really existing capitalist democracy”, where there is a positive correlation between people’s wealth and their influence on policy-making. For the lower 70% on the wealth/income scale, they have no influence on policy whatsoever. They are effectively disenfranchised.
Ray La Raja, Professor at the University of Massachusetts, notes in an article for The Atlantic that America’s current system is democratic only in form, not in substance. The nominating process is vulnerable to manipulation by plutocrats, celebrities, media figures and activists. Many presidential primary voters mistakenly back candidates who do not reflect their views.

(3) The checks and balances have resulted in a “vetocracy”
American political scientist Francis Fukuyama points out in his book Political Order and Political Decay that there is an entrenched political paralysis in the US. The US political system has far too many checks and balances, raising the cost of collective action and in some cases making it impossible altogether. Fukuyama calls the system a “vetocracy”. Since the 1980s, the “vetocracy” of the US has become a formula for gridlock.
The US democratic process is fragmented and lengthy, with a lot of veto points where individual veto players can block action by the whole body. The function of “checks and balances”, which was purportedly designed to prevent abuse of power, has been distorted in American political practice. Political polarization continues to grow as the two parties drift further apart in political agenda and their areas of consensus have reduced significantly. An extreme case is the fact that “the most liberal Republican now remains significantly to the right of the most conservative Democrat”. Antagonism and mutual inhibition have become commonplace, “vetocracy” has defined American political culture, and a vindictive “if I can’t, you can’t either” mentality has grown prevalent.
Politicians in Washington, D.C. are preoccupied with securing their own partisan interests and don’t care at all about national development. Vetoing makes one identify more strongly with their peers in the same camp, who may in turn give them greater and quicker support. Consequently the two parties are caught in a vicious circle, addicted to vetoing. Worse still, the government efficacy is inevitably weakened, law and justice trampled upon, development and progress stalled, and social division widened. In the US today, people are increasingly identifying themselves as a Republican or a Democrat instead of as an American. The negative impacts of identity politics and tribal politics have also spilled over into other sectors of American society, further exacerbating “vetocracy”.
According to a Pew Research Center report in October 2021 based on a survey of 17 advanced economies (including the US, Germany and the Republic of Korea), the US is more politically divided than the other economies surveyed. Nine in ten US respondents believe there are conflicts between people who support different political parties, and nearly 60% of Americans surveyed think their fellow citizens no longer disagree simply over policies, but also over basic facts.
Jungkun Seo, Professor of Political Science at Kyung Hee University, observes that as political polarization intensifies in the US, the self-cleaning process of American democracy, which aims to drive reform through elections, will no longer be able to function properly. With the Senate trapped in a filibuster, the US Congress no longer serves as a representative body for addressing changes in American society through legislation.

(4) The flawed electoral rules impair fairness and justice
The US presidential election follows the time-honored Electoral College system, where the president and vice president are not elected directly by popular vote, but by the Electoral College consisting of 538 electors. The candidate who achieves a majority of 270 or more electoral votes wins the election.
The flaws of such an electoral system are self-evident. First, as the president-elect may not be the winner of the national popular vote, there is a lack of broader representation. Second, as each state gets to decide its own electoral rules, this may create confusion and disorder. Third, the winner-takes-all system exacerbates inequality among states and between political parties. It leads to a huge waste of votes and discourages voter turnout. Voters in “deep blue” and “deep red” states are often neglected, while swing states become disproportionately more important where both parties seek to woo more supporters.
There have been five presidential elections in US history in which the winners of nationwide popular vote were not elected the president. The most recent case was the 2016 presidential election in which Republican candidate Donald Trump won 62.98 million popular votes or 45.9% of the total, while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won 65.85 million or 48% of popular votes. Although Trump lost the popular vote, he won 304 electoral votes while Clinton secured only 227, which gave Trump his presidency.
Another flaw of the electoral system widely acknowledged by the US public is gerrymandering. In 1812, Governor of Massachusetts Elbridge Gerry signed a bill in the interest of his own party, creating in his state an odd-shaped electoral district that was compared to a salamander. Such practice was later called gerrymandering, which refers to an unfair division of electoral districts in favor of a particular party to win as many seats as possible and cement its advantage.
The US conducts a census every ten years. Following the completion of the census, redistricting or the redrawing of electoral district boundaries will take place under the principle of maintaining roughly equal population in every voting district while considering demographic shifts. Under the US Constitution, each state legislature has the power to redistrict. This leaves room for the majority party in state legislatures to manipulate the redrawing of electoral districts. Two principal tactics are often used in gerrymandering. One is “packing”, i.e. concentrating the opposition party’s voters in a few districts, thus giving up these districts to secure the others. The other is “cracking”, i.e. splitting up areas where the opposition party’s supporters are concentrated and incorporating them into neighboring districts, thus diluting votes for the opposition party.
On 27 September 2021, the Democratic-governed state of Oregon became the first in the country to complete redistricting. Electoral districts firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party have increased from two to four, and swing districts reduced from two to one. This means that the Democratic Party can control 83% of the state’s congressional districts with 57% of voters. On the contrary, the Republican-controlled state of Texas, with new electoral district boundaries determined on 25 October 2021, has seen districts held by Republicans grow from 22 to 24 and swing districts shrink from six to one. The Republican Party now occupies 65% of state House seats with just 52.1% of voters.
According to a YouGov poll in August 2021, just 16% of US adult citizens say they think their states’ congressional maps would be drawn fairly, while 44% say they think the maps would be drawn unfairly and another 40% of adults say they are unsure if the maps will be fair. As US politics grows more polarized, both the Republican and Democratic parties are seeking to maximize their own interests, and gerrymandering becomes the best approach.
The superdelegate system of the Democratic Party is also an impediment to fair election. The superdelegates include major Democratic leaders, members of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic members of Congress, and incumbent Democratic governors, and are seated automatically. The superdelegates may support any candidate they choose or follow the will of the Party leadership without giving any consideration to the wishes of the general public.
The late political analyst Mark Plotkin wrote on The Hill that the “Democrats’ superdelegate system is unfair and undemocratic”, and “the process of eliminating this elitist exercise should immediately begin”.

(5) Dysfunctional democracy triggers trust crisis
The American-style democracy is more like a meticulously set up scene in Hollywood movies where a bunch of well-heeled characters publicly pledge commitment to the people, but actually busy themselves with behind-the-scene deals. Political infighting, money politics, and vetocracy make it virtually impossible for quality governance to be delivered as desired by the general public. Americans are increasingly disillusioned with US politics and pessimistic about the American-style democracy.
A Gallup survey in October 2020 shows that only 19% of the Americans surveyed are “very confident” about the presidential election, a record low since the survey was first conducted in 2004.
In November 2020, an online Wall Street Journal report argues that the 2020 general election can be seen as the culmination of a two-decade decline in faith in democracy in the US.
According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 16% of Americans say democracy is working well or extremely well; 45% think democracy isn’t functioning properly, while another 38% say it’s working only somewhat well. A Pew Research Center survey finds that just 20% of Americans say they trust the federal government just about always or most of the time.
A Brookings online article in May 2021 indicates that the certification of the 2020 election results by all 50 states still leaves 77% of Republican voters questioning the legitimacy of President Biden’s election victory due to allegations of voter fraud. This is the first time such things happen since the 1930s.
A CNN poll in September reveals that 56% of Americans think democracy in the US is under attack; 52% reply they are just a little or not at all confident that elections reflect the will of the people; 51% say it’s likely that elected officials in the next few years will overturn the results of an election their party did not win.
A 2021 Pew survey conducted among 16,000 adults in 16 advanced economies and 2,500 adults in the US shows that 57% of international respondents and 72% of Americans believe that democracy in the US has not been a good example for others to follow in recent years.

2.Messy and chaotic practices of democracy

That democracy in the US has gone wrong is reflected not only in its system design and general structure, but also in the way it is put into practice. The US is not a straight A student when it comes to democracy, still less a role model for democracy. The gunshots and farce on Capitol Hill have completely revealed what is underneath the gorgeous appearance of the American-style democracy. The death of Black American George Floyd has laid bare the systemic racism that exists in American society for too long, and spurred a deluge of protests rippling throughout the country and even the whole world.
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains out of control in the US, the issue of mask-wearing and vaccination has triggered further social division and confrontation. Dividends of economic growth are distributed unfairly, and income growth has stalled for most ordinary people for a long period of time. The American-style democracy can hardly uphold public order and ethics, nor advance public well-being to the fullest.

(1) The Capitol riot that shocks the world
On the afternoon of 6 January 2021, thousands of Americans gathered on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. and stormed the Capitol building in a bid to stop the joint session of the Congress from certifying the newly-elected president. The incident interrupted the transfer of US presidential power, leaving five dead and over 140 injured. It is the worst act of violence in Washington, D.C. since 1814 when the British troops set fire to the White House, and it is the first time in more than 200 years that the Capitol was invaded. Senate Republican leader described it as a “failed insurrection”. A scholar from the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) exclaims that the US is not nearly as unique as many Americans believe, and that the Capitol riot should put an end to the notion of American exceptionalism, of an eternal shining city on a hill.
The assault on the Capitol has undermined the three major bedrocks of the American-style democracy.
First, “democracy” in the US is not democratic as it claims. The refusal of some US politicians to recognize the election results and their supporters’ subsequent violent storming of the Capitol building have severely undercut the credibility of democracy in the US.
Second, “freedom” in the US is not free as it claims. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms suspended the personal accounts of some US politicians, a de facto announcement of their “death on social media”. This has bust the myths of “freedom of speech” in the US.
Third, the “rule of law” in the US is not bound by the law as it claims. The totally different attitudes taken by US law enforcement agencies toward the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) protests and the Capitol riot are yet another reminder of the double standards in the US “rule of law”.
The assault on the Capitol sent shock waves throughout the international community. While deploring the violence, many people also expressed disappointment at the US.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that what happened in the US Capitol were “disgraceful scenes”.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that “in one of the world’s oldest democracies ... a universal idea — that of ‘one person, one vote’ — is undermined.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa commented that it “shook the foundations” of democracy in the US.
Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tweeted that the political farce in the US offers much food for thought, and that there is no perfect democracy, especially when it comes to its practices.

(2) Entrenched racism
Racism is an indelible blot on democracy in the US. While advocating “all men are created equal”, the founding fathers of the US left the institution of slavery untouched in the Constitution of 1789. Today, although racial segregation has been ostensibly abolished in the US, white supremacy is still rife and rampant across the country. Discrimination against Black Americans and other racial minorities remains a systemic phenomenon.
American society has experienced relapses of its malaise of racial discrimination from time to time. On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a Black American, lost his life in Minnesota because of law enforcement violence by the police. “I can’t breathe” — Floyd’s desperate plea for life before his death — sparked public outrage. Afterwards, protests and demonstrations erupted in about 100 cities across the 50 states of America, demanding justice for Floyd and protesting against racial discrimination. The demonstrations continued more than 100 days after the incident.
What happened to George Floyd is merely an epitome of the tragic plight of Black Americans over the past centuries. Sandra Shullman, Past President of the American Psychological Association, says that America is in “a racism pandemic”. The dream of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. remains unrealized. According to an editorial of The Indian Express, a mainstream newspaper of India, American racism has endured, subverting the country’s deepest democratic institutions in the process.
In February 2021, Stanford News, a website of Stanford University, carried an article examining systemic racism in the US. The article suggests that in education, youth of color are more likely to be closely watched; in the criminal justice system, people of color, particularly Black men, are disproportionately targeted; and in the economy and employment, from who moves forward in the hiring process to who receives funding from venture capitalists, Black Americans and other minority groups are discriminated against in the workplace and economy-at-large. A study by the University of Washington finds that around 30,800 people died from police violence between 1980 and 2018 in the US, which is about 17,100 higher than the official figure. It also indicates that African Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police violence than white Americans.
The anger erupting across America is not just Black anger, but across racial lines. An article published on the website of The Jerusalem Post of Israel notes that American Jews are concerned about right-wing antisemitism and violence driven by white supremacist groups. According to annual surveys conducted by the American Jewish Committee, in 2020, 43% US Jews feel less secure than a year ago, and in 2017, 41% say antisemitism is a serious problem in the US, up from 21% in 2016, 21% in 2015, and 14% in 2013.
The bullying of Americans of Asian descent is increasing in the US. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been growing cases of Asian Americans humiliated or attacked in public places. Statistics from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate that hate crimes against people of Asian descent rose by 76% in the US in 2020. From March 2020 to June 2021, the organization Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate received over 9,000 incident reports. A survey of young Asian Americans on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) website shows that in the past year, a quarter of young Asian Americans became targets of racial bullying, nearly half of the respondents expressed pessimism about their situation, and a quarter of the respondents expressed fear about the situation of themselves and their families.

(3) Tragic mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic
With the best health and medical resources in the world as it claims, the US has been a total mess when it comes to COVID response. It has the world’s highest numbers of infections and deaths.
According to figures released by Johns Hopkins University, as of the end of November 2021, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US had exceeded 48 million, and the number of deaths had surpassed 770,000, both the highest in the world.
On 8 January this year, 300,777 new confirmed cases were reported, a record single-day increase since the COVID-19 outbreak in the US. On 13 January alone, 4,170 Americans died of COVID-19, far exceeding the death toll of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At the end of November, the average daily increase of confirmed cases in the US had climbed to over 70,000, and daily death toll to over 700.
One in every 500 Americans have died of COVID-19. Up to now, COVID-19 deaths in the US have surpassed its total death toll from the 1919 Influenza Pandemic, and its combined deaths in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan.
If the US had taken a science-based response, a lot more lives could have been saved. The pandemic, as epidemiologist and former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention William Foege put it, is a “slaughter”.
The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the US economy. The rate and scale of business shutdown and unemployment in the country are beyond imagination, leaving a large number of Americans jobless. People’s anxiety and sense of powerlessness has been exacerbated by growing factors of social instability.
The COVID Hardship Watch released by the US Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on 29 July 2021 suggests that while there have been improvements over the situation in December 2020, hardship is widespread for Americans in the first half of 2021. Some 20 million adults live in households that have not got enough to eat, 11.40 million adult renters are behind on rent, facing the risk of being evicted.
As indicated in the statistics released by the US Census Bureau, by 5 July 2021, at least one member in 22% of all households with underage dependents had lost their source of income.
US consumer confidence has dropped substantially, and progress in job market recovery has stalled. Institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Oxford Economics have significantly revised down growth forecasts for the US economy. At the same time, the pandemic, coupled with three rounds of massive economic stimulus plans, among other factors, has caused port congestion and supply shortages, pushing inflation higher. In October of this year, US CPI surged by 6.2% from a year earlier, marking a year-on-year rise of no less than 5% for six consecutive months, and a record high since 2008.
The root cause of the continued spread of the coronavirus in the US is not a dearth of science, but the refusal to trust and rely on science. For the sake of elections, some politicians have prioritized partisan interests over national interests, politicized pandemic response, and focused on shifting blames on others. The federal and state governments have failed to galvanize a concerted response to the pandemic, and are mired in infighting instead. As a result, pandemic response measures have been severely politicized. The choices with regard to vaccination and mask-wearing have become a bone of contention between the parties and among the people. There appears a growing trend of anti-intellectualism.
A report by the French newspaper Le Monde observes that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the fragility of democracy in the US. The extremely expensive health system, reserved for the rich and leaving the poorest without social security, has made this country, yet one of the most developed in the world, fall behind due to social injustice. This is a typical case of a democratic drift that makes it impossible to effectively manage a crisis.
Stanford News notes that, in the area of public health, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and has highlighted the health disparities between Black Americans, whites and other demographic groups.

(4) Widening wealth gap
The US is more polarized than any other Western country in terms of wealth distribution. Its Gini coefficient has increased to 0.48 in 2021, almost the highest in 50 years. As revealed by reports of the Institute for Policy Studies, a US think tank, the combined wealth of US billionaires soared 19-fold between 1990 and 2021, while over this same period, US median wealth only increased 5.37%. The harsh reality in the US is the rich is becoming richer, and the poor poorer.
According to Fed’s October 2021 statistics, the middle 60% of US households by income, defined as the “middle class”, saw their combined assets drop to 26.6% of national wealth as of June this year, the lowest in three decades, while the first 1% had a 27% share, surpassing the “middle class”.
A report by UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez shows that in terms of average annual income, America’s top 10% rich earn over nine times as much as the bottom 90%; the wealthiest 1% are about 40 times more than the bottom 90%; and the ultra-wealthy top 0.1% are 196 times of the bottom 90%.
The stimulus policy that the US has introduced in response to COVID-19 has, while pushing up stock markets, further widened the gap between the rich and the poor. The wealth of US billionaires has grown US$1.763 trillion, or 59.8%, over the 16 months since the COVID outbreak in the US. The wealthiest 10% now own 89% of all US stocks, registering a new historic high.
The wealth polarization in the US is inherent to its own political system and the interests of the capital that its government represents. From the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, to the recent “Harambe stares down Wall Street’s Charging Bull”, the American people have never stopped condemning the widening wealth gap. Yet, nothing has changed. Those governing the US choose to do nothing about the growing wealth inequality. And the pandemic has further exposed a rule in American society — capital first and the rich first.

(5) “Freedom of speech” in name only
In the US, the media is juxtaposed with the executive, the legislative and the judiciary as the “fourth branch of government” and journalists are considered “uncrowned kings”. Though US media organizations claim to be independent from politics and serve freedom and truth, they are actually serving financial interests and party politics.
A few media conglomerates maintain control of the US news media and have morphed into a political force with outsize influence.
Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the federal government is required to relax regulation over the ownership of media outlets. This has led to an unprecedented wave of mergers and a crippling erosion of the diversity and independence of the US media. The drastic reduction in the number of media outlets has enabled a few companies to expand into monopolies.
In the US, a few media conglomerates are now in control of over 90% of media outlets, netting them an annual profit even higher than the gross domestic product (GDP) of some developing countries.
These media behemoths, while eager to make more business footprints, have extended their reach into American politics, attempting to sway political processes through lobbying, public relations campaign or political donations.
The US media monopolies have become “invisible killers” of civil and political rights.
Robert McChesney, a leading US scholar in the studies of political economy of communications and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, notes in his book Rich Media, Poor Democracy that media companies, profit-driven by nature, confine people to the world of entertainment programs, depriving their access to diversified information, distracting their interest in public affairs, diminishing their ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and muting their voice in the decision-making of social policies. In an American society dominated by media narratives, traditional notions of civic and political involvement have shriveled. Depoliticization has turned democracy into a political game without citizens.
A report in Miami’s New Herald argues that as the media is controlled by the elite and conglomerates, people are not able to distinguish between facts and political propaganda.
The US media is no longer a “gatekeeper” of democracy. The political wrangling between the Left and Right in the US media has further entrenched the estrangement and division between the two parties and between the elite and the mass public. It has aggravated political polarization in the US, pushing the political Left further left and the Right further right. And it has fueled the spread of extremist ideologies and populism in the US.
According to a study by Sejong Institute, a think tank in the Republic of Korea, over 80% of conservative voters in the US see news reports by mainstream media outlets, such as New York Times, as false information and have a biased trust in media. Voters believe in only a few media outlets and would ignore communications at the national level. Levelheaded discussions and consensus-building have been replaced by megaphone politics and negative partisan strife.
The Digital News Report 2021 issued by the University of Oxford and Reuters Institute indicates that among 92,000 online news consumers surveyed in 46 markets, those in the US have the lowest level of trust in news, a mere 29%.
In the information age when traditional media is on the decline, social media has become a new favorite for the general public. Yet, like traditional media, social media is also under the control of big capital and interest groups. To increase their website traffic, social media sites use algorithms to create “information cocoons”, leaving extreme content unchecked and uncontrolled. This drives users toward self-reinforcing their existing views, exacerbates identity politics, and further divides public opinion.
In October 2021, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked tens of thousands of pages of explosive internal documents of Facebook. She disclosed to Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) that Facebook would not hesitate to sacrifice public interests to keep users on its platform and make profits. Facebook has become a main platform for social extremists and is fraught with hate speech, disinformation and misinformation. Action is only taken on 3-5% of hate and about 0.6% of violence and incitement on the platform.


3. Disastrous consequences of US export of its brand of democracy

Without regard to huge differences in the level of economic development and in the historical and cultural backgrounds of countries around the world, the US seeks to impose its own political system and values on other nations. It pushes for what it calls “democratic transition”, and instigates “color revolution”.
It wantonly interferes in other countries’ internal affairs and even subverts their governments, bringing about disastrous consequences for those countries. In other words, the US has attempted to model other countries after its own image and export its brand of democracy. Such attempts are entirely undemocratic and at odds with the core values and tenets of democracy. Without producing the expected chemistry, the American-style democracy has turned out to be a “failed transplant” that plunges many regions and countries into turmoil, conflicts and wars.

(1) The “color revolutions” undermine regional and national stability 
The US has a habit of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of “democracy” and seeking regime change to install pro-US governments.
A former senior CIA official once talked about making people “what we want them to be” and “follow our directions”, and the possibility of confusing people’s minds, changing their values, and making them believe in the new values before they know it.
Former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo openly admitted “I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”
The US has developed a system of strategies and tactics for “peaceful evolution”. It would start with “cultural exchanges”, economic assistance, and then public opinion shaping to foster an atmosphere for “color revolution”. It would exaggerate the mistakes and flaws of incumbent governments to foment public grievances and anti-government sentiments.
In the meantime, it would brainwash local people with American values and make them identify with America’s economic model and political system. It would also cultivate pro-US NGOs and provide all-round training to opposition leaders. It would seize the opportunity of major elections or emergencies to overthrow targeted governments through instigating street political activities.
In recent history, the US has pushed for the neo-Monroe Doctrine in Latin America under the pretext of “promoting democracy”, incited “color revolution” in Eurasia, and remotely controlled the “Arab Spring” in West Asia and North Africa. These moves have brought chaos and disasters to many countries, gravely undermining world peace, stability and development.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, people have long been under no illusion about “the American-style democracy”. Any attempt of the US to promote its self-styled “model of democracy” would be only self-defeating and self-humiliating.
In 1823, the US issued the Monroe Doctrine, declaring “America for the Americans” and advocating “Pan-Americanism”.
In the following decades, the US, under the excuse of “spreading democracy”, repeatedly carried out political interference, military intervention, and government subversion in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The US pursued a policy of hostility toward socialist Cuba and imposed blockade against the country for nearly 60 years, and subverted the government of Chile under Salvador Allende. These were blatant acts of hegemonism. “My way or no way.” That’s the US logic.
Since 2003, Eastern Europe and Central Asia have seen the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, and the “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan. The US State Department openly admitted playing a “central role” in these “regime changes”.
In October 2020, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service revealed that the US planned to instigate “color revolution” in Moldova.
The “Arab Spring” that started in 2010 was an earthquake that shook the entire Middle East. The US orchestrated the show behind the scene, and played a key role. The New York Times revealed in 2011 that a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in “authoritarian” Arab states. A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the “Arab Spring” revolts received training and financing from US organizations like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House.
Mustafa Ahmady, an African and international affairs specialist in Ethiopia, contributed an article to Ahram Online entitled “Promised Lands”, explaining that it was largely due to Obama’s famous statement “Now means now” that furious Egyptian protesters overthrew Mubarak, and that they paid a heavy price as a result of the political change.
Seeing what the US had done, the Arab people have come to realize that the US wants to force a stereotyped model of democracy on them regardless of their own will.
In countries forced to copy and paste American values, there is no sign of true democracy, true freedom, or true human rights. What have been left in these countries are prevailing scenes of persisting chaos, stagnation and humanitarian disasters.
The US export of its values has disrupted the normal development process in the recipient countries, hindered their search for a development path and model befitting their national conditions, brought political, economic and social turmoils, and destroyed, one after another, what used to be other peoples’ beautiful homelands. The turmoils, in turn, have given rise to terrorism and other long-term challenges that threaten and jeopardize regional and even global security.
As suggested by the French website Le Grand Soir, democracy has long become a weapon of massive destruction for the US to attack countries with different views.
The US applies different standards in assessing democracy of its own and other countries. It praises or belittles others entirely according to its own likes or dislikes. Following the Capitol attack on 6 January 2021, an American politician compared the incident of violence to the 9/11 terror attack, calling it a “shameful assault” on the US Congress, constitution and democracy. It is ironic that in June 2019 the same politician called the violent demonstrations at the Hong Kong Legislative Council building as a “beautiful sight to behold” and commended the rioters for their “courage”. What a blatant double standard.

(2) The US imposition of its brand of democracy causes humanitarian tragedies 
The US export of its brand of democracy by force has led to humanitarian disasters in many countries. The 20-year US war in Afghanistan has left the country devastated and impoverished. A total of 47,245 Afghan civilians and 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan soldiers and police who had nothing to do with 9/11 attacks were killed in US military operations, and more than 10 million people were displaced. The war destroyed the foundation for Afghanistan’s economic development and reduced Afghans to destitution.
In 2003, the US launched military strikes against Iraq for its alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. The civilian death toll of the Iraq war is between 200,000 and 250,000, including over 16,000 directly killed by the US military. More than a million people lost their homes. Moreover, the US troops seriously violated international humanitarian principles, as evidenced by the frequent incidence of prisoner abuse. Until now the US has not been able to produce any credible proof of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
According to records available, 33,584 civilians were killed in war and conflict in Syria between 2016 and 2019. Among the victims, 3,833 were directly killed in bombings by the US-led coalition and half of them were women and children. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reported on 9 November 2018 that the “most accurate air strike in history” launched by US forces on Raqqa alone killed 1,600 Syrian civilians.
In 2018, the US launched airstrikes on Syria again for the purpose of, what they called, preventing the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. But the “evidence” of the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government turned out to be a fake video footage directed and produced by the White Helmets, an organization funded by intelligence agencies of the US and other countries.

(3) The abuse of sanctions breaches international rules
Unilateral sanction is a “big stick” the US wields in dealing with other countries. Over many years, the US has exercised its financial hegemony and abused its technological clout to carry out frequent, unilateral bullying against other countries.
The US has enacted some draconian laws, such as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and issued a series of executive orders to target and sanction specific countries, entities or individuals.
The ambiguous rules contained in these acts and executive orders, such as the “minimum contacts principle” and “doctrine of effects”, are in fact a willful expansion of the jurisdiction of US domestic laws.
These acts and executive orders make it possible for the US to abuse its domestic channels for prosecution and exercise “long-arm jurisdiction” over entities and individuals in other countries. The two most prominent examples are the case of French company Alstom and that of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
Statistics show that the Trump administration had imposed over 3,900 sanction measures, which means the US wielded its “big stick” three times a day on average. As of fiscal year 2021, the entities and individuals on US sanction lists topped 9,421, 933% higher compared to the previous fiscal year.
The US unwarranted unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” have gravely undermined the sovereignty and security of other countries, severely impacting their economic development and people’s wellbeing. The sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” constitute a gross violation of international law and basic norms of international relations.
The US sanctions against other countries have continued unabated into 2021.
The US administration, in collaboration with its European allies, have ramped up containment and suppression against Russia, imposed blanket sanctions allegedly in response to the Navalny incident and alleged Russian cyber attacks and interference in US elections, among others, and launched a diplomatic war by the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
With regard to issues such as the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project and the digital service tax, the US has not hesitated to sanction even its European allies.
Following the entry into force of the China-US phase one trade agreement, the US has taken further measures to suppress and contain China. It has placed over 940 Chinese entities and individuals on its restricted lists. According to statistics from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury, as of 19 October 2021, a total of 391 entities and individuals from China (including Hong Kong and Macao) have been sanctioned by the US.
In an article published in the September/October 2021 issue of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Drezner, Professor at Tufts University and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, criticizes successive US administrations for using “sanctions as the go-to solution for nearly every foreign policy problem.” He notes that sanctions not only are ineffective, but also “exert a humanitarian toll”, and that the United States of America has become the “United States of Sanctions”.
US unilateral sanctions are a continuous, grave violation of human rights of Americans and other peoples. The worst example is the protracted US blockade against Cuba.
For more than 60 years, in total disregard of the many resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the US has continued its comprehensive blockade against Cuba based on its embargo policies and domestic laws such as the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Act.
The Cuba blockade is the longest and cruelest systemic trade embargo, economic blockade and financial sanctions in modern history. The blockade has been gravely detrimental to Cuba’s economic and social development, causing US$100 billion direct losses to Cuba’s economy.
US blockade and sanctions against Iran began in late 1970s. Over the past 40-plus years, US unilateral sanctions have increased in both intensity and frequency. They have gradually evolved into a rigorous sanction regime that covers finance, trade and energy, and are targeted at both entities and individuals. The purpose is to intensify pressure on Iran from all dimensions.
In May 2018, the US government announced its unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and soon after resumed and expanded sanctions against Iran. Many countries and relevant entities have been forced to give up their cooperation with Iran. A large number of foreign oil enterprises left the country. Iran’s manufacturing industry has been unable to keep up normal operations. The country has suffered economic slowdown, coupled with heightened inflation and massive currency depreciation.
The US has imposed sanctions on Belarus, Syria and Zimbabwe, among others, over the years, and ratcheted up “maximum pressure” against the DPRK, Venezuela, etc.

(4) The “beacon of democracy” draws global criticism
The people of the world have a discerning eye. They see very well the flaws and deficiencies of democracy in the US, hypocrisy in exporting US “democratic values”, and US acts of bullying and hegemony around the world in the name of democracy.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson once noted that the US is accustomed to posing as the “global beacon of democracy” and urging everyone else to take a humane approach to what they call “peaceful protests”, but adopting completely opposite measures at home. She further noted that the US is “not a beacon of democracy”, and that the US administration “would do well to, first of all, listen to its own citizens and try to hear them, instead of engaging in witch-hunts in their own country and afterwards talking hypocritically about human rights in other countries”. The US is in no position to lecture other countries on human rights and civil liberties, she noted.
In May 2021, Latana, a German polling agency, and the Alliance of Democracies founded by former NATO Secretary General and former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, released a Democracy Perception Index which is based on a survey of over 50,000 people in 53 countries. The findings reveal that 44% of respondents are concerned that the US may pose a threat to democracy in their country, 50% of Americans surveyed are concerned that the US is an undemocratic country, and 59% of US respondents think that their government acts in the interest of a small group of people.
In June 2021, Brian Klaas, Associate Professor of Politics at University College London, contributed an article to The Washington Post entitled “The world is horrified by the dysfunction of American democracy”. The article quotes data from Pew Research Center, which suggest that “America is no longer a ‘shining city upon a hill’” and that most US allies see democracy in the US as “a shattered, washed-up has-been”, and that 69% of respondents in New Zealand, 65% in Australia, 60% in Canada, 59% in Sweden, 56% in the Netherlands and 53% in the United Kingdom do not think that the US political system works well. More than a quarter of people surveyed in France, Germany, New Zealand, Greece, Belgium and Sweden believe that American democracy has never been a good example to follow.
A report by the polling agency Eupinions indicates that the EU’s confidence in the US system has declined, with 52% of respondents believing the US democratic system does not work; 65% and 61% of respondents in France and Germany hold the same view.
In September 2021, Martin Wolf, a renowned British scholar, pointed out in his article “The strange death of American democracy” contributed to The Financial Times that the US political environment has reached an “irreversible” point, and “the transformation of the democratic republic into an autocracy has advanced”.
In November 2021, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, a Sweden-based think tank, released The Global State of Democracy listing the US as a “backsliding democracy” for the first time. The Secretary General of the institute said that “the visible deterioration of democracy in the United States” is “seen in the increasing tendency to contest credible election results, the efforts to suppress participation (in elections), and the runaway polarization”.
Indian political activist Yogendra Yadav points out that the United States is not “an exemplar of democracy”, that the world has realized that the US needs to reflect on its democracy and learn from other democracies.
Mexican magazine Proceso comments that behind a seemingly free and democratic facade, the US system of democracy has major flaws.
Sithembile Mbete, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria, writes in an article published in Mail and Guardian that “many of the markers of free and fair elections — a universal voters’ roll, centralized election management, uniform rules and regulations — are absent in the American system. Much of what we Africans have been trained to recognize as good electoral conduct has never existed in the US.”

Conclusion

America: no longer the beacon on the hill
— The Times of Israel 

What is now imperative for the US is to get to work in real earnest to ensure its people’s democratic rights and improve its system of democracy instead of placing too much emphasis on procedural or formal democracy at the expense of substantive democracy and its outcome.
What is also imperative for the US is to undertake more international responsibilities and provide more public goods to the world instead of always seeking to impose its own brand of democracy on others, use its own values as means to divide the world into different camps, or carry out intervention, subversion and invasion in other countries under the pretext of promoting democracy.
The international community is now faced with pressing challenges of a global scale, from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic slowdown to the climate change crisis. No country can be immune from these risks and challenges. All countries should pull together. This is the best way forward to overcome these adversities.
Any attempt to push for a single or absolute model of democracy, use democracy as an instrument or weapon in international relations, or advocate bloc politics and bloc confrontation will be a breach of the spirit of solidarity and cooperation which is critical in troubled times.
All countries need to rise above differences in systems, reject the mentality of zero-sum game, and pursue genuine multilateralism.
All countries need to uphold peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are common values of humanity.
It is also important that all countries respect each other, work to expand common ground while shelving differences, promote cooperation for mutual benefit, and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.








美国民主情况​
2021-12-05 10:00​
目  录
 序言
一、何为民主
二、美国民主的异化及三重弊害
(一)制度痼疾积重难返

1、美式民主沦为“金钱政治”
2、名为“一人一票”,实为“少数精英统治”
3、权力制衡变成“否决政治”
4、选举规则缺陷损害公平正义
5、民主制度失灵引发信任危机
(二)民主实践乱象丛生
1、国会暴乱震惊全球
2、种族歧视根深蒂固
3、疫情失控酿成惨剧
4、贫富分化不断加剧
5、“言论自由”名不副实
(三)输出所谓民主产生恶果
1、“颜色革命”危害地区和国家稳定
2、强推所谓民主造成人道悲剧
3、滥用制裁破坏国际规则
4、“民主灯塔”招致全球批评
结束语
序言

民主是全人类的共同价值,是各国人民的权利,而不是哪个国家的专利。实现民主有多种方式,不可能千篇一律。用单一的标尺衡量世界丰富多彩的政治制度,用单调的眼光审视人类五彩缤纷的政治文明,本身就是不民主的。每个国家的政治制度应由这个国家的人民自主决定。
美国民主制度是美国一国实践的结果,具有独特性,不具普遍性,更远非尽善尽美。但长期以来,美国无视自身民主制度的结构性缺陷与国内民主实践的不足,自诩为“民主样板”,频频打着民主的旗号肆意干涉他国内政、发动对外战争,引发地区动荡和人道主义灾难。
本报告旨在通过列举事实和专家观点,梳理美国民主制度的弊端,分析美国国内民主实践的乱象和对外输出民主的危害,希望美国完善自身民主制度和实践,对外改弦易辙。这既有利于美国人民,也有利于世界人民。如果没有哪个国家试图垄断民主标准,没有哪个国家试图把本国政治制度强加于人,没有哪个国家试图把民主当作工具打压别国,各国各美其美、美美与共,这个世界会更美好。
一、何为民主
民主一词源自古希腊语,本意是“人民统治”、“主权在民”。作为一种政体形式,民主迄今已有2500多年历史,涵盖了从古代雅典公民直接民主政府到现代代议制政府等多种形式,是人类政治文明发展的结果。
民主不是装饰品、不是宣传品,而是要用来解决人民需要解决的问题的。一个国家民主不民主,关键在于是不是真正做到了人民当家做主。要看人民有没有投票权,更要看人民有没有广泛参与权;要看人民在选举中得到了什么口头许诺,更要看选举后这些承诺实现了多少;要看制度和法律规定了什么样的政治程序和政治规则,更要看这些制度和法律是不是真正得到了执行;要看权力运行规则和程序是否民主,更要看权力是否真正受到人民监督和制约。
一个行之有效的民主制度不仅要有完整的制度程序,而且要有完整的参与实践,能够做到过程民主和成果民主、程序民主和实质民主、直接民主和间接民主、人民民主和国家意志的相统一。如果人民只有在投票时被唤醒、投票后就进入休眠期,只有竞选时聆听天花乱坠的口号、竞选后就毫无发言权,只有拉票时受宠、选举后就被冷落,这样的民主绝不是真正的民主。
一个国家是不是民主,应该由这个国家的人民来评判,而不是由外部少数人来指手画脚。
世界上没有哪一套民主制度是完美的,不存在适用于一切国家的政治制度模式。各国民主制度的建立和民主进程的发展都有其历史性和民族性,都有自身独特价值。国际社会应在相互尊重、平等相待基础上就民主问题进行交流对话,共同为全人类进步作出更大贡献。
二、美国民主的异化及三重弊害
历史上,美国民主的发展有其进步性,政党制、代议制、一人一票、三权分立等是对欧洲封建专制的否定和革新。法国著名思想家托克维尔在其《论美国的民主》一书中也对此予以积极评价。《独立宣言》、“权利法案”、废奴运动、民权运动、平权运动等成为了美国民主进程中的亮点。林肯的“民有、民治、民享”三原则更是脍炙人口。
但是,随着时间的推移,美国的民主制度逐渐异化和蜕变,已经越来越背离民主制度的内核和制度设计的初衷。金钱政治、身份政治、政党对立、政治极化、社会撕裂、种族矛盾、贫富分化等问题愈演愈烈,民主制度的功能出现衰退。
美国还以民主为名频频干涉他国内政,引发地区国家政局动荡和民不聊生,破坏世界和平稳定和各国社会安定。美国和世界上的许多人都在问,美国还是一个“民主国家”吗?世界需要对美国的民主情况作深入检视,美国自己也需要好好反躬自省。
(一)制度痼疾积重难返
美国一贯以“山巅之城”、“民主灯塔”自称,标榜其自诞生之初就设计了一套为保障民主自由而生的政治体制。然而,民主这一理念同今天的美国已经貌合神离。从金钱政治到精英统治,从政治极化到制度失灵,美式民主已身染沉疴。
1、美式民主沦为“金钱政治”
美式民主是建立在资本基础上的“富人游戏”,与人民民主有着本质区别。
100多年前,美国俄亥俄州共和党联邦参议员马克·汉纳这样形容美国政治:“在政界,有两样东西很重要,第一是金钱,第二个我就不记得了。”100多年后再看,金钱依旧是美国政治的“硬通货”,而且作用更无可替代。以2020年美国总统和国会选举为例,此次选举总支出高达140亿美元,是2016年的2倍和2008年的3倍,被称为“史上最烧钱的大选”。其中,总统选举花费再创历史纪录,达到66亿美元;国会选举花销超过70亿美元。
美国民众不得不面对的事实是,金钱政治贯穿美国选举、立法、施政的所有环节,实际上限制了民众的参政权利,经济地位的不平等已经转变为政治地位的不平等,只有口袋里有足够多资本的人才能享受宪法规定的民主权利。金钱政治越来越成为美国社会难以根除的一颗“毒瘤”,成为美国民主的莫大讽刺。
一位美国联邦参议员一针见血地指出:“有些人认为美国国会控制着华尔街,然而真相是华尔街控制着美国国会”。据统计,91%的美国国会选举都是由获得最多资金支持的候选人赢得,而大企业、少数富人以及利益集团出手更加阔绰,成为选举资金的主要来源。这些所谓“民意代表”成功当选后,往往为其背后的金主服务,化身既得利益的代言人,而不是为普通民众发声。
2020年3月,加州大学伯克利分校公共政策教授、美国前劳工部长罗伯特·莱克出版《系统:谁操纵它,我们如何修复它》一书。该书认为,过去40多年,美国的政治系统被极少一部分人操控。政治献金几乎被视为“合法的贿赂”,让富人拥有了更强大的政治影响力。2018年中期选举中,巨额政治献金占到了竞选资金的40%以上,这些巨额资金主要来自占美国总人口0.01%的富豪。金钱政治和游说团体正在扭曲美国普通民众发声的渠道,绝大多数人表达真实意愿的声音都被少数利益集团盖过了。这些寡头又用手中的权力来充实自己的财富,而普通民众的利益则被抛诸脑后。
2020年9月23日,哈佛大学法学院教授马修·史蒂芬森在接受“今日哈佛法律”采访时表示,美国在廉政方面绝不是世界领袖,游说、政治献金等做法在其他国家被认为是腐败,但在美国不仅被允许,还受宪法法律保护。
2、名为“一人一票”,实为“少数精英统治”
美国是一个典型的由精英阶层主导的国家,“多元政治”只是一种表面现象,精英们把持政治、经济、军事等方面的统治地位,操控国家机器,制定规章制度,把握舆论风向,主导商业公司,行使各种特权,等等。特别是自19世纪60年代以来,民主、共和两党轮流“坐庄”分享国家权力,多党制名存实亡。普通选民把选票投给第三党或独立候选人等于浪费投票机会,只能在两党推出的候选人之间做出非此即彼的选择。
在“驴象之争”背景下,两党始终将大众政治参与限定在狭小范围。对于普通选民而言,选举时召之即来,选举后挥之即去,大多数人都只是选举游戏的“群众演员”,“民治”在美国政治实践中很难有所体现。
美国麻省理工学院政治评论家与社会活动家诺姆·乔姆斯基指出,美国是“真实存在的资本主义民主”,美国人对政策制定的影响力与他们的财富水平之间呈正相关性,约70%的美国人对政策制定没有任何影响,他们在收入水平、财富等方面处于劣势,相当于被剥夺了参政权利。
美国马萨诸塞州大学教授贾拉拉贾在《大西洋月刊》发表文章表示,美国目前的民主只是形式上的民主,而不是实质民主。总统选举的全国范围初选完全受富人、名人、媒体和利益集团的操纵,民众投票支持的总统参选人往往不真正代表民意。
3、权力制衡变成“否决政治”
美国政治学家弗朗西斯·福山在其专著《政治秩序与政治衰退》中指出,美国存在根深蒂固的政治瘫痪现象,美国的政治体制中有太多的制衡,以致集体行动的成本大大增加,有时甚至寸步难行。这是一种可被称为“否决制”的体制。20世纪80年代以来,美国的“否决制”变成了通往政治僵局的“灵丹妙药”。
美国民主程序分散、冗长,存在大量否决点,个别否决行为即可影响体系行动,所谓“相互制衡蕴涵纠偏能力”的预设在实际操作中日益走样。美国政治极化加剧,两党诉求大相径庭,共识不断压缩,甚至出现“最自由的共和党人也比最保守的民主党人大大右倾”的极端状况,对立制约已成家常便饭,“否决政治”成为政治生态,“我办不成事也不能让你办成”蔚然成风。
华盛顿的政客关注的是保住党派利益,国家发展的宏图伟略早已抛诸脑后。否决对手会加强自身阵营身份认同,身份认同的加强又迅速巩固自身阵营支持力量,美国两党痴迷于“否决”,陷入难以自拔的恶性循环,其结果必然是政府效能被弱化、公正法治被践踏、发展进步被迟滞、社会分裂被放大。当今美国,“我是美国人”正渐次被“我是共和党人”“我是民主党人”所替代,“身份政治”“部落政治”向美社会各层面恶性传导加剧“否决政治”。
2021年10月美国智库皮尤研究中心对美国、德国、韩国等17个发达经济体所做调查结果显示,美国被视为政治极化最严重国家,90%的美国受访者认为不同党派的支持者之间存在严重分歧,近六成美国受访者认为民众不仅在政策领域意见相左,在基本事实方面也难以达成共识。
韩国庆熙大学政治学教授徐正健指出,美国政治两极化愈演愈烈,依靠选举推进改革的民主主义自净程序无法正常运行。美国国会参议院陷入“冗长辩论”议事程序陷阱,不能发挥立法应对社会变化的代议机构作用。
4、选举规则缺陷损害公平正义
美国总统选举遵循古老的选举人团制度,总统和副总统并非由选民直接选出,而是由选举人团投票决定。美国现有选举人票538张,赢得超过一半选举人票(270张)的候选人即当选总统。这种选举制度弊端十分明显:一是当选总统可能无法赢得多数普选票,代表性不足;二是具体选举规则由各州自行决定,易发生乱象;三是“赢者通吃”制度加剧各州地位不平等、各党地位不平等,造成巨大选票浪费并抑制投票率,深蓝州、深红州选民往往遭忽视,摇摆州获得相对非对称重要性,成为两党竞相拉拢的对象。
美国历史上出现过5次赢得了全国普选票却输掉总统选举的情况。最近的一次是,2016年大选共和党总统候选人唐纳德·特朗普获得6298万多张普选票,得票率45.9%。民主党总统候选人希拉里·克林顿获得6585万多张普选票,得票率48%。特朗普虽然输掉普选票,但赢得304张选举人票,希拉里仅获得227张选举人票,特朗普以选举人票数优势当选总统。
美国民众公认的选举制度另一大弊病是“杰利蝾螈”。1812年,马萨诸塞州州长杰利为谋求本党利益,签署法案将州内一个选区划成类似蝾螈的极不规则形状。这种做法后被称为“杰利蝾螈”,即指通过不公平的选区划分,帮助本党赢得尽可能多的议席,巩固优势地位。美国每10年进行一次人口普查,然后按“各选区人口大致相等”原则并结合人口变化情况重新划分选区。美国宪法将划分选区的权力赋予各州立法机构,为州议会多数党“杰利蝾螈”提供操作空间。“杰利蝾螈”主要靠两种操作,一是“集中”,即尽可能将反对党选民集中划入少数特定选区,牺牲这些选区以换取其他选区绝对安全;二是“打散”,即将反对党选民相对集中的地区拆分划入周边不同选区,从而稀释反对党选票。
民主党主政的俄勒冈州于2021年9月27日在全美率先完成选区重新划分,民主党牢牢控制的选区由原来的2个增至4个,“摇摆选区”由2个减至1个,这意味着该党可凭借57%的实际选民占比,控制该州83%的国会选区。反之,共和党控制的得克萨斯州于今年10月25日确定新的选区划分,牢牢控制的选区由原来的22个增至24个,“摇摆选区”由原来的6个减为1个,共和党可凭借52.1%的实际选民占比,占据该州65%的国会众议院席位。
2021年8月YouGov舆观调查网民调显示,仅16%选民认为本州能够公平划分选区,44%认为不能,其余40%表示不确定。随着美政治极化加剧,两党均竭力谋求自身利益最大化,“杰利蝾螈”成为不二选择。
民主党的“超级代表”制度也阻碍选举公平。“超级代表”由民主党主要领袖、全国委员会成员、参议院和众议院所有民主党议员、民主党现任州长组成,提前“内定”产生,其投票意向完全根据个人喜好和党内高层意志,无法反映民意。《国会山报》政治专家马克·普洛特金撰文表示,美国总统选举民主党党内初选中的“超级代表”制度既不公正也非民主。这样的“精英做法”应该立即被废除。
5、民主制度失灵引发信任危机
美式民主如同好莱坞刻意布置的场景,展现的都是精心打造的人设,台前大喊人民、背后大搞交易,党同伐异、金钱政治、否决政治根本不能带来民众所希望的高质量治理。美国民众对美国政治愈发反感,对美式民主愈发消极。
2020年10月,美国盖洛普民调公司调查显示,对总统选举非常有信心的美国受访者比例仅有19%,创下自2004年以来该调查的最低纪录。11月,《华尔街日报》网站指出,在2020年大选中,人们对美国民主制度的信心下降到20年来最低点。
根据美联社—NORC公共事务研究中心的一项民意调查,只有16%的美国人表示民主运作良好或非常好,45%的美国人认为民主运作不正常,而另外38%的美国人认为民主运作得不太良好。美国皮尤研究中心调查显示,仅有20%的美国人一直或多数时候都信任联邦政府。
2021年5月,布鲁金斯学会网站撰文指出,在2020年大选结束后,美国全部50个州认证选举结果,但仍有77%的共和党选民以选票欺诈为由质疑拜登当选总统的合法性。这是自20世纪30年代以来第一次。9月,美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)民调显示,56%的美国民众认为美国民主“正在遭受攻击”,52%认为选举没有或很少反映民意,51%认为未来几年美国官员可能因本党败选而推翻选举结果。
2021年,皮尤对16个发达经济体的1.6万人和2500名美国人的调查结果显示,57%的国际受访者和72%的美国人认为美国已经不是可供他国效仿的“民主典范”。
(二)民主实践乱象丛生
美国民主的异化不仅表现在制度设计等结构性层面,更体现在其实践中。美国不是民主的优等生,更遑论“民主典范”。国会山的枪声与闹剧彻底揭开美式民主的华丽外衣。黑人弗洛伊德之死揭露了美国社会长期存在的系统性种族歧视,激起全美乃至全世界此起彼伏的抗议浪潮。新冠疫情持续失控,是否戴口罩、打疫苗成为社会分裂和对立的新导火索。经济发展红利分配不均,普通民众收入长期停滞。美式民主难以有效维护公序良俗,无法充分提供公共福祉。
1、国会暴乱震惊全球
2021年1月6日下午,数千名美国民众聚集在华盛顿国会山并强行闯入国会大厦,以阻止美国国会联席会议确认美国新当选总统。事件导致美总统权力过渡进程中断并造成5人死亡,140多人受伤。此次事件是自1814年白宫遭英军纵火焚烧以来华盛顿最严重的暴力事件,200余年来国会大厦首次被占领。美国国会参议院共和党领袖将这一事件称为“失败的叛乱”。美国对外关系委员会学者惊呼,美国不像许多美国人想的那样与众不同,国会暴乱事件应给“美国例外论”和“山巅之城”的说法画上句号。
冲闯国会事件动摇了美式民主制度三大基石。一是所谓“民主”并不民主。美国一些政客拒绝承认选举结果,其支持者暴力冲闯国会大厦,重挫美国民主“公信力”。二是所谓“自由”并不自由。推特、脸书等社交媒体冻结美国一些政客的个人账号,宣布其“社交性死亡”,戳破美“言论自由”的假象。三是所谓“法治”并不法治。美执法部门对待“黑人的命也是命”示威抗议和冲闯国会事件态度一严一宽,不同执法尺度再次暴露美“法治”的双标本性。
冲闯国会事件震惊了国际社会,“哀其不幸,怒其不争”。英国首相约翰逊发推特表示,美国国会发生的事件非常可耻。法国总统马克龙讲话称,在世界最古老民主国家之一的美国,“一人一票”的普世价值正遭受重创。南非总统拉马福萨表示,这动摇了美国民主的基础。印尼前总统苏西洛发推特表示,美国政治闹剧值得深思,没有完美的民主制度,民主实践更不完美。
2、种族歧视根深蒂固
种族主义问题是美国民主无法磨灭的耻辱烙印。美国的开国元勋一边说着“人人生而平等”,一边却在1789年施行的宪法中保留了蓄奴制度。时至今日,美国虽然表面上废除了种族隔离制度,但白人至上主义甚嚣尘上,对黑人等少数族裔的歧视依然系统性存在。
美国的种族问题每隔一段时间就会“复发”。2020年5月25日,明尼苏达州警察暴力执法导致黑人弗洛伊德不治身亡。弗洛伊德死前“我无法呼吸”的绝望哀求点燃了汹涌民愤,全美50个州上百个城市随后爆发游行示威,为弗洛伊德伸张正义,抗议种族歧视问题。直到事件发生百余天后,有关游行仍在持续。
弗洛伊德的遭遇只是美国黑人百年来悲惨境遇的缩影。正如美国心理学会主席舒尔曼所说,美国始终处于一场种族主义的大流行病中,民权运动领袖马丁·路德·金的梦想至今并未实现。印度主流媒体《印度快报》发表社论称,美国的种族主义颠覆了美民主制度。
2021年2月,斯坦福大学新闻网发表文章检视美各领域系统性种族歧视:在教育领域,有色人种儿童在学校受到更为密切的监视;在司法领域,有色人种尤其是黑人更容易成为被针对的目标;在经济和就业领域,从应聘职位到获取贷款,黑人等其他少数族裔群体在职场和整体经济环境中受到歧视。美国华盛顿大学研究报告显示,1980年至2018年间,美国约有30800人因警察暴力死亡,这一数字比官方公布的人数多出约17100人,其中非洲裔因警察暴力死亡的可能性是白人的3.5倍。
美各地爆发的愤怒不只来自黑人,已跨越种族界限。以色列《耶路撒冷邮报》网站刊文指出,美国犹太人对白人至上主义团体驱动的右翼反犹主义和暴力行为感到担忧。美国犹太人委员会年度民调显示,2020年43%的在美犹太人认为其安全感比上一年更低,2017年有41%的人认为反犹主义在美国是一个严重问题,该比率远高于2016年的21%、2015年的21%和2013年的14%。
美国国内对亚裔群体的欺凌也在不断加剧。新冠疫情暴发以来,亚裔美国人在公共场合遭受羞辱甚至攻击的事件此起彼伏。美国联邦调查局公布的数据显示,2020年全美针对亚裔的仇恨犯罪案件数量上升76%。从2020年3月到2021年6月,“停止仇恨亚裔美国人”组织接到了9000多起投诉报告。美国全国广播公司网站一项针对美国亚裔年轻人的调查显示,在过去1年中,四分之一的美国亚裔年轻人成为种族欺凌目标,近一半受访者对自身所处境遇表示悲观,四分之一的受访者对自己及家人所处的境遇表示恐惧。
3、疫情失控酿成惨剧
美国号称具有世界上最丰富的医疗资源,应对新冠肺炎疫情却一片混乱,成为世界上确诊人数和死亡人数最多的国家。
截至2021年11月底,根据约翰斯·霍普金斯大学统计数据,美国累计报告新冠肺炎确诊病例超过4800万例,累计死亡逾77万例,两项数据均名列世界第一。今年1月8日,美国单日新增新冠肺炎确诊病例300777例,达到疫情在美暴发以来最高;1月13日,4170名美国人因感染新冠肺炎去世,远超“9·11”恐怖袭击事件丧生人数。11月末,美国日均新增确诊病例数量超过7万例,新增死亡病例逾700例,美国平均每500人就有1人死于新冠肺炎。截至目前,美国新冠病亡人数已超越1919年大流感病亡人数,也超过美在一战、二战、朝鲜战争、越南战争、伊拉克战争、阿富汗战争死亡人数之和。如果美国能够科学应对,很多人不必付出生命代价。美国流行病学家、疾病控制与预防中心原负责人威廉·福格认为“这是一场屠杀”。
疫情重创美国经济。美国企业倒闭和失业潮发生速度及规模超乎想象,大量民众长期失业,社会不稳定因素增加等加剧了美国人的焦虑感和无力感。美国预算与政策优先事项中心2021年7月29日的《新冠困境报告》显示,尽管情况比2020年12月有所改善,但2021年上半年美国人生活困难情况依旧十分普遍,仍有2000万成年人所在家庭没有足够食物,1140万成年租房者无法按时交纳房租,面临被赶出租屋的风险。美国人口普查局数据显示,截至2021年7月5日,有未成年人的家庭中至少有一人失去收入来源的比例仍高达22%。美民众消费信心大幅下滑,就业市场复苏放缓。高盛、摩根士丹利、牛津经济研究院等机构纷纷显著下调美经济增长预期。同时,疫情、三轮大规模经济刺激计划等因素叠加导致美港口拥堵和供应短缺,进而推升美通货膨胀率。今年10月,美消费者价格指数(CPI)同比上涨6.2%,连续6个月同比上涨幅度达到或超过5%,创2008年来最大涨幅。
疫情在美延宕,症结并非在于美国没有科学,而是不信科学、不用科学。美国一些政客为了选举,将党派利益置于国家利益之上,将抗疫问题政治化,一门心思对外“甩锅”推责。美联邦与各州一盘散沙,不仅形不成合力,反而彼此争斗。在这个大背景下,抗疫举措已被严重政治化,疫苗打与不打、口罩戴与不戴都成为了政党、民众争执的焦点,反智主义甚嚣尘上。
法国《世界报》报道指出,新冠疫情危机揭示了美国民主制度的脆弱性。美国把昂贵的医疗卫生体系留给富人,放任贫穷者被剥夺社会保障,使美国这一世界上最发达国家因社会不公而变得落伍,这是民主偏差导致无法有效管控疫情的经典案例。斯坦福大学新闻网指出,在医疗卫生领域,新冠疫情对有色人种造成了更严重的影响,凸显了白人和有色人种之间健康水平差距。
4、贫富分化不断加剧
美国是贫富分化最严重的西方国家。2021年美国基尼系数升至0.48,几乎是半个世纪以来的新高。美国智库政策研究院报告称,1990年至2021年,美国亿万富翁的总体财富增长了19倍,而同期美国中位数财富只增加了5.37%。这揭示了美国“富者愈富、穷者愈穷”的残酷现实。
美联储2021年10月统计数据显示,截至今年6月,美国收入在中间60%的“中产阶级”拥有的财富在国家总财富中占比已经跌至26.6%,创过去30年来新低,而收入前1%的富人却拥有27%的国家财富,超过了“中产阶级”。
加州大学伯克利分校经济学家伊曼努尔·萨兹发表的统计数据显示,美国前10%富人人均年收入是后90%人口的9倍多,前1%富人人均年收入是后90%人口的40倍,而前0.1%富人人均年收入是后90%人口的196倍之多。
新冠疫情暴发以来,美国实施“大水漫灌”政策,在推高股市的同时也进一步拉大了贫富差距。美国亿万富翁拥有的总资产增加了1.763万亿美元,涨幅高达59.8%。排名前10%的美国富人持有89%的美国股票,创下历史新高。
美国的贫富分化是由美国政治制度及其政府所代表的资本利益所决定的。从“占领华尔街”运动,到近期的“大猩猩”对视华尔街铜牛事件,美国民众对贫富分化的声讨从未停止,但现状毫无改变。美国治理者放任贫富差距扩大,疫情之下,资本优先、富人先行的社会规则更加横行。
5、“言论自由”名不副实
在美国,媒体被称为与行政、立法、司法三权并立的“第四权力”,记者更是被誉为“无冕之王”。美国媒体虽然标榜独立于政治、为自由和真相服务,但早已服务于金钱和党派政治。
少数传媒集团垄断美国新闻业,成为一手遮天的政治力量。1996年美国颁布了《电信法》,要求联邦政府放松媒体所有权监管,由此掀起史无前例的兼并狂潮,对美国媒体的多样性和独立性造成毁灭性打击。随着美国媒体数量锐减,少数几家公司不断做大,形成垄断巨头。今天的美国,少数几家企业控制90%以上的媒体,年收益甚至超过某些发展中国家的经济总量。这些媒体“巨无霸”一边大肆扩张商业版图,一边将触手伸向美国政坛,通过游说公关和竞选献金左右政治进程。
被垄断的美国媒体成为公民政治权利的“隐形杀手”。美国传播政治经济学派代表人物、伊利诺伊大学香槟分校教授罗伯特·麦克切斯尼在《富媒体穷民主》一书中指出,出于追逐利润的本性,媒体公司将民众封锁在娱乐节目的世界中,使民众失去获取多元化信息的渠道、关心公共问题的兴趣以及明辨是非的能力,在社会政策制定过程中逐渐失声。民主政治文化在媒体高度发达的美国社会变得极度萎缩,“政治疏离”导致民主成为一种“没有公民”的政治游戏。迈阿密《新先驱报》报道称,在精英和财团控制的媒体诱导下,民众已无法辨别哪些是事实真相,哪些是政治宣传。
美国媒体不再是民主的“守门员”。媒体行业的“左右之争”无形中加深了美国两党之间、精英与平民之间的隔阂与分歧,造成“左的更左”、“右的更右”,并导致极端思想和民粹主义在美国登堂入室。
韩国智库世宗研究所刊文指出,超过80%的美国保守派选民将《纽约时报》等主流媒体报道视为虚假消息,对媒体的信任呈偏向性。选民只听信特定媒体,无视国家层面沟通,大喊大叫、消极党争代替了冷静讨论和共识。牛津大学—路透社新闻研究所发布《2021全球数字新闻洞察报告》指出,在对46个国家的92000名新闻消费者调查后发现,美国民众对媒体的信任度排名垫底,受调查人群中仅有29%的民众信任媒体。
在传统媒体衰落的信息时代,社交媒体一跃成为公众“新宠”,但也免不了复制传统媒体被大资本和利益集团控制的老路。社交媒体公司为了赚取流量,利用算法为用户编织起“信息茧房”,对提供的极端内容不加管控,从而导致使用者日益自我固化,身份政治和民意撕裂更加严重。
2021年10月,前脸书公司员工豪根公布了数万份关于脸书公司内部运作的爆炸性文件。豪根向美国哥伦比亚广播公司透露,脸书公司为了保持用户粘度,不惜牺牲公众利益而攫取利润。脸书平台是社会极端分子的主要阵地,充斥着仇恨言论、虚假信息和错误信息,而只有3%至5%的仇恨以及约0.6%的暴力和煽动性言论得到管控。
(三)输出所谓民主产生恶果
美国政府不顾世界上不同国家和地区在经济发展水平和历史文化方面存在的巨大差异,将自己的政治制度和价值理念强加于人,推行“民主改造”,策划“颜色革命”,肆意干涉他国内政,甚至颠覆他国政权,造成灾难性后果。美国按照自己的形象塑造其他国家、“输出民主”的行为本身就不民主,从根本上违背了民主的核心价值理念。美式民主嫁接之地,不但没有产生“化学反应”,反而引发“水土不服”,导致许多地区和国家深陷动荡、冲突和战争泥潭。
1、“颜色革命”危害地区和国家稳定
美国惯于打着所谓“民主价值”的旗号,大肆干涉别国内政、甚至策动政权更迭、扶持亲美政府。前美国中央情报局高官曾宣称“把人们塑造成为我们需要的样子,让他们听我们的。只要把脑子弄乱,我们就能不知不觉改变人们的价值观念,并迫使他们相信一种经过偷换的价值观念”。美国前国务卿蓬佩奥曾公开表示:“我曾担任美国中央情报局局长。我们撒谎、我们欺骗、我们偷窃。我们还有一门课程专门来教这些。这才是美国不断探索进取的荣耀。”
美国已形成了一整套实施“和平演变”的套路:首先借所谓“文化交流”、经济援助、控制舆论等方式,为发动“颜色革命”制造舆论氛围,尽量夸大现政权的错误、弊端,以激起群众的不满和反政府情绪;同时,向民众灌输美国的价值观,使人们认同美国的经济政治制度;培养大量非政府组织,全方位培训反对派领导人,抓住重要选举或突发事件的时机,通过各种街头政治活动,推翻当地政权。
历史上,美国借“推广民主”之名在拉美推行“新门罗主义”,在欧亚地区煽动“颜色革命”,在西亚北非国家遥控“阿拉伯之春”,给多国带来混乱和灾难,严重损害世界和平、稳定和发展。
在拉美和加勒比地区,“美式民主”的美颜滤镜早已破碎,美国“民主典范”的自我表演充满了尴尬。1823年,美国发表“门罗宣言”,宣称“美洲是美洲人的美洲”,鼓噪“泛美主义”。此后,美国无数次打着“传播民主”的旗号,对拉美和加勒比地区进行政治干涉、军事介入和政权颠覆。无论是敌视封锁社会主义古巴近60年,还是颠覆智利阿连德政府等,都是“顺我者昌,逆我者亡”的霸权行径。
2003年起,东欧、中亚地区接连发生格鲁吉亚“玫瑰革命”、乌克兰“橙色革命”和吉尔吉斯斯坦“郁金香革命”。美国国务院公开承认在这些“政权更迭”中发挥了“中心作用”。2020年10月,俄罗斯对外情报局披露美国计划在摩尔多瓦掀起“颜色革命”。
始于2010年的“阿拉伯之春”造成整个中东地区的强烈震荡,而美国在其中扮演着幕后“操盘手”的重要角色。2011年《纽约时报》披露,少数由美国政府资助的核心组织正在“专制的”阿拉伯国家推广民主。参与“阿拉伯之春”的若干组织和个人曾从美国“国际共和研究所”“国际事务民主协会”和“自由之家”获得培训和资助。埃塞俄比亚非洲和国际事务专家穆斯塔法·阿哈马迪在“金字塔在线”网站发表文章《应许之地》指出,埃及人民在奥巴马“现在就意味着现在”的口号煽动下推翻了穆巴拉克,但埃及人民也因政局变动付出了沉重代价。美国的所作所为使阿拉伯人民认识到,美国希望将一种刻板的民主模式强加于阿拉伯人,而不管他们的意愿如何。
环顾被美国强行“推销”价值观的国家,真正的民主、自由、人权不见踪迹,持久混乱、发展停滞和人道主义灾难却随处可见。美国对多国的价值观输出,阻断了这些国家正常的发展进程,阻碍了这些国家探索适合本国国情的发展道路和模式,给当地带来政治、经济、社会的强烈动荡,毁灭了一个个曾经美好的家园,滋生恐怖主义等长期后患,威胁和破坏地区乃至全球安全。正如法国《大晚报》所指出的,“民主”在美国手中早已成为对异见国家的“大规模杀伤性武器”。
美国在评价国内外民主方面秉持不同标准,是褒是贬由美国自说自话、随心所欲。2021年1月6日,美国发生冲闯国会山事件后,有位美国政客将其比作“9·11”恐怖袭击,声称这是对美国国会、宪法和民主“可耻的攻击”。但讽刺的是,2019年6月,此人却将发生在香港立法会的暴力示威活动描绘成“一道美丽的风景线”,并对暴徒展现出的“勇气”大加赞赏,暴露出赤裸裸的“双重标准”。
2、强推所谓民主造成人道悲剧
美国强制输出所谓民主,酿成多国人道灾难。美国发动长达20年的阿富汗战争让阿富汗满目疮痍,民生凋敝。据统计,总共47245名阿富汗平民以及6.6万至6.9万名与“9·11”事件无关的阿富汗军人和警察在美军行动中丧生,1000多万人流离失所。阿富汗战争毁坏阿经济发展基础,让阿富汗人民一贫如洗。
2003年,美国以所谓伊拉克持有大规模杀伤性武器为由,对伊拉克发动军事打击。战争导致的平民死亡人数有20万至25万人,其中美军直接致死的超过16000人,并造成100多万人无家可归。美军还严重违反国际人道主义原则,频频制造“虐囚”事件。时至今日,美国也拿不出所谓“伊拉克持有大规模杀伤性武器”的证据。
2016年至2019年,叙利亚有记载死于战乱的平民达33584人。其中,美国领导的联军轰炸直接致死3833人,有半数是妇女和儿童。美国公共电视网2018年11月9日报道,仅美军对拉卡市发动的所谓“史上最精确的空袭”,就导致1600名叙平民被炸死。
2018年,美国以“阻止叙利亚政府使用化学武器”为由,再次对叙展开空中打击。但后来所谓叙利亚政府使用化学武器的证据,被证明只不过是美国等国情报部门资助的“白头盔”组织自编自演的摆拍视频而已。
3、滥用制裁破坏国际规则
单边制裁是美国的对外大棒。长期以来,美国滥用自身金融霸权和技术优势,频频采取单边霸凌行径。美国制订了《国际紧急经济权力法》《全球马格尼茨基人权问责法》《以制裁反击美国敌人法》等国内恶法并炮制了一系列行政令直接对特定国家、组织或个人进行制裁,以“最低联系原则”“效果原则”等模棱两可的规则任意扩大美国内法管辖范围,还滥用国内司法诉讼渠道对其他国家实体和个人搞“长臂管辖”,其中最典型的案例就是“阿尔斯通案”和“孟晚舟案”。据统计,特朗普政府累计实施逾3900项制裁措施,相当于平均每天挥舞3次“制裁大棒”。截至2021财年,美净制裁实体和个人高达9421个,较2000财年增长933%。美实施非法单边制裁与“长臂管辖”,严重损害他国主权安全,严重影响有关国家国计民生,严重违反国际法和国际关系基本准则。
2021年以来,美对外制裁没有收手。美国政府联合欧洲盟国加大对俄罗斯遏制打压,以纳瓦尔内事件、俄对美网络攻击、干预美大选等为由对俄实施全面制裁,并发动外交战,驱逐俄外交人员。在“北溪-2”天然气管道项目和数字税等问题上,美国制裁欧洲盟友也毫不客气。自中美第一阶段经贸协议生效以来,美国不断对华采取打压遏制措施,将940多个中国实体和个人列入各类限制清单。根据美财政部外国资产控制办公室数据,截至10月19日,美制裁含香港、澳门在内的中国实体和个人数量达391个。
美国塔夫茨大学教授、布鲁金斯学会高级研究员丹尼尔·德雷兹纳今年9月在《外交》杂志发表文章,批评美国历届政府将制裁作为解决外交问题的首选方案,非但起不到效果,还造成人道主义灾难,称“美利坚合众国”已成为“制裁合众国”。
美国实施单方面制裁,持续严重侵犯本国及他国人民的人权。其中最恶劣的例子就是对古巴持续实施封锁。60多年来,美国罔顾联合国大会的多项决议,基于通过禁运政策和《托里切利法》《赫尔姆斯-伯顿法》等国内法构筑起针对古巴的全面封锁体系,实施了现代历史上持续时间最长、程度最严厉的系统性贸易禁运、经济封锁和金融制裁,严重损害古经济社会发展,令古蒙受直接经济损失逾千亿美元。
自上世纪70年代末,美国对伊朗开始了长期封锁和制裁。40多年来,美单边制裁力度和频度不断加大,逐步形成以金融、贸易、能源和实体个人等多领域制裁为主要手段的严密体系,对伊朗施加全方位、多管齐下的制裁压力。2018年5月,美国政府单方面退出伊朗核问题全面协议,随后重启并新增一系列对伊制裁。许多国家和相关实体被迫放弃与伊合作,大批国外石油企业陆续撤出伊,伊制造业难以正常运行,经济增速下滑,同时造成通胀高企、货币大幅贬值。
美国还对白俄罗斯、叙利亚、津巴布韦等国实施多年制裁,加大对朝鲜、委内瑞拉等国“极限施压”。
4、“民主灯塔”招致全球批评
全球民众的眼睛是雪亮的,对于美国民主存在的种种缺陷、美国输出“民主价值观”的虚伪性以及美借民主之名在全球横行霸道看得一清二楚。
俄罗斯外交部发言人指出,美国早已习惯于自诩为“世界民主灯塔”,要求别国人道对待和平请愿,但在自己国内却采取截然相反的做法,美国根本不是照亮民主的灯塔。美国政府首先应倾听本国民众呼声,不要一边在国内搞“猎巫行动”,一边还道貌岸然地大谈别国人权问题。美国在人权和公民自由问题上根本没资格对别国指手画脚。
2021年5月,德国民调机构拉塔纳和由北约前秘书长、丹麦前首相拉斯穆森创建的民主国家联盟基金会在53个国家对5万多人进行的“2021年民主认知指数”调查结果显示,44%的受访者担心美国对本国民主构成威胁,50%的美国受访者担心美国是非民主国家,59%的美国受访者认为美国政府只代表少数集团利益。
2021年6月,英国伦敦大学政治学副教授克拉斯在《华盛顿邮报》发表文章《美国民主失灵令世界震惊》。文章援引的皮尤民调显示,美国不再是“山巅之城”,美多数盟友将美国民主视为“破碎的过往”,新西兰、澳大利亚、加拿大、瑞典、荷兰和英国分别有69%、65%、60%、59%、56%和53%的民众认为美国政治体制运行得不太好或者很不好。法国、德国、新西兰、希腊、比利时、瑞典等国均有超过四分之一的民众认为“美国从来都不是民主典范”。
民调机构“欧盟观点”发布的报告显示,欧盟对美国制度的信心下滑,52%的人认为美国民主制度无效,这一比例在法国和德国分别为65%和61%。
2021年9月,英国知名学者马丁·沃尔夫在《金融时报》发表文章《美国民主的奇异消亡》指出,美国的政治环境已走到快无法挽回的程度,民主共和国进一步向专制主义转变。
2021年11月,瑞典智库“国际民主及选举协助研究所”发布年度报告《2021年全球民主现状》,将美国首次列入“退步的民主国家名单”。该组织秘书长表示,美国民主状况明显恶化,体现为对可信的选举结果提出质疑的趋势愈发明显、对参与选举的压制以及日益严重的极化现象。
印度政治活动家亚达夫指出,美国并非“民主典范”,世界认识到美式民主急需自我反思,美国需向其他民主国家学习。墨西哥《进程》杂志评论称,在看似民主自由的表象下,美国民主制度存在巨大缺陷。南非比勒陀利亚大学政治学系高级讲师姆贝特在《邮卫报》上撰文称,自由和公平选举的许多标志,比如普遍的选民名册、集中的选举管理、统一的规则和条例,其实在美国系统中是缺失的。非洲人所接受民主培训中的良好选举行为在美国从未存在。
结束语
山巅之城的美国,灯塔效应不再。
——《以色列时报》
当下的美国,对内应切实保障民众的民主权利、完善自身民主制度,对外应承担更多的国际责任,提供更多的公共产品,而不是对内只讲程序民主、形式民主而忽视实质民主和结果民主,对外将美式民主强加于人,以价值观为手段划分阵营,打着民主的旗号行干涉、颠覆、侵略之实。
当前,国际社会正在应对新冠肺炎疫情、经济增长放缓、气候变化危机等全球性紧迫挑战。面对这些风险和挑战,谁都无法独善其身,团结合作是最有力的武器。把民主一元化、绝对化、工具化、武器化,人为制造集团政治和阵营对立,这与同舟共济的精神背道而驰。
各国应该超越不同制度分歧,摒弃零和博弈思维,践行真正的多边主义,弘扬和平、发展、公平、正义、民主、自由的全人类共同价值,相互尊重、求同存异、合作共赢,共同构建人类命运共同体。

中华人民共和国外交部 版权所有​
 

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vi-va

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How Europeans see Biden’s America – European Council on Foreign Relations


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Titanium100

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How Europeans see Biden’s America – European Council on Foreign Relations


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How come there is not a single we trust in America?
 

vi-va

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Major difference between China meritocracy and many other autocratic countries.

What is the ultimate test of a political system?

Selection and election: How China chooses its leaders


The three ‘genetic defects’ of the Western model

Is it fair for the West to criticize China's human rights record?

A good system should select leader more wisely. The west should learn from China on this regard.

China meritocracy has long history and use imperial examination system (科举制度) to select elites which is different from western one which is base on blood. China has been using imperial examination system since Sui Dynasty(隋朝) which is 1400 years ago.

The central goverment has schools(中央党校) and Organization Department(中共组织部). There is a TED video on youtube for this:


The mass enjoy the election show. But it's just an illusion that the public can make wise decision, most of them barely manage their own life. Half of the US marriage end up divorce. If half of the population do NOT have good judgement on husbands or wives, how can they manage the President position? The mass are neither professionals on economy, nor foreign policy.

The Chinese system has flaws, every system has it's pros and cons. We criticize our system more than anyone else on earth. We Chinese always self-check our system since Records of the Grand Historian(史记) in 94 BC. and Zizhi Tongjian(资治通鉴). That's our oldest tradition.

Culturally, Chinese are historians in the core.
 

Globenim

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How come there is not a single we trust in America?
Thats a survey asking the general public, not the disconnected ruling class, who are mostly in bed or straight out puppets of the U.S. regime. You have politicians there that work hand in hand with CIA organizations to advocate strategic interests for the U.S. regime and promote hate, but on their resume they are posing as liberal climate activists and tree huggers and get voted by a brainwashed domestic population that is kept out of the loop whats really going on in the world no different than in the United States. It not like Europe rates that much better than the U.S.A. in terms of representation of public will and interests in actual governance.
 

Song Hong

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There is no democracy in almost ALL democratic countries including Singapore. For example most citizens of Singapore, especially the Muslims, are vigilant against LBGT, and GoS just push this agenda to the citizen despite wide opposition.

These days, perversion, depravements are forced fed to the citizens on all democratic countries. Only Russia and China, two the the "so call non democratic" country by the west, are able to align with citizen's desire and impose a moral policy. In this aspect Russia and China is more democratic,

US democracy is just a name for the deprave elites to use proxy as a front man, and rule from behind.
 

Chhatrapati

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what are the specific consequences that can be imposed on Chinese preaching democracy?
Not everything is about money. Some actions result in being a laughing stock, mockery, or a distaste. The Russians are smart, they know how to use their powers and influence effectively. Learn a thing or two from them instead of embarrassing your country like this.
 

FairAndUnbiased

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Not everything is about money. Some actions result in being a laughing stock, mockery, or a distaste. The Russians are smart, they know how to use their powers and influence effectively. Learn a thing or two from them instead of embarrassing your country like this.

indeed not everything is about money. there's also use of force. so what use of force is possible against China for doing this? none.

if neither use of force nor monetary consequences are available then criticizing something just shows your impotence.
 

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