Democracy is hailed to be a panacea. After all, America’s perpetual wars are always justified by the goal to spread “freedom and democracy” and America’s geopolitical rivals are always demonized as authoritarian or dictatorships — the opposites of democracy. However, if an alien without ideological biases visited the earth and looked at the the U.S. or Europe, the alien wouldn’t be so impressed.
Competence and effective governance are not correlated to elections, transparency, accountability and other alleged features of liberal democracies. Let’s take a look at some of the polls to understand the abysmal performance of the system in the U.S.
- Only 11% of Americans are satisfied with the direction in which the country is going. (Gallup poll, Jan 2021)
2. 63% of Americans DISAPPROVE how Congress is performing (Statista)
3. The average confidence in 14 key institutions is only 32%. This was from a Gallup Poll in 2016 and is likely lower now. The institutions include presidency, congress, supreme court, military, police, healthcare, public schools, TV, newspapers, banks etc.
4. Half of all Americans and 77% of liberals want “major changes” to the economy. It’s equally bad in Europe, our democratic allies who “share our values.” (Pew Research Poll 2021)
5. Only 15% say that democracy is working well in America. And 85% say that the country is too divided. (AP-NORC poll, October 2020). Interestingly, America’s allies are in agreement — only 16% in “G6” (G7 minus USA) countries say that U.S. democracy is a good example for others.
6. Majority (57%) of Americans believe that the country is in the midst of a “cold civil war.” (2021 Edelman Trust Barometer)
7. Only 43% of Americans say that they and their families will be better off in five years. (2020 Edelman Trust Barometer)
These are profound problems that aren’t going away anytime soon. How to solve them is a trillion-dollar question.
On the other hand, look at similar polls in China and the numbers are stunning: 80-90% of Chinese people trust their government, give thumbs up to the government’s performance, and are optimistic about their own future. Technocratic and meritocratic governments have their own advantages.
— Chris Kanthan, author of a new book: “China, China, Chyyna — Greatest Disruption to American Century“