Democracy is the ostensible religion of contemporary West and is used as a justification for status quo at home and wars abroad. We are the greatest, because we have democracy; we have to accept the dysfunctional political system, because that’s the price of democracy; and we wage perpetual wars all over the world to spread democracy. The pro-democracy slogans and talking points sound great, until you put them under a microscope. Yes, democracy is great, but it has numerous preconditions to be even partially successful. And the big secret is that current democracy is a controlled theater with selected actors and preordained results. Let’s analyze this illusion.
Why Democracy is Good:
The word “democracy” comes from Greek and means “rule by the people.” Abraham Lincoln refined the definition further by saying that democracy is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Ideally, this will be a great system. The people of a country select their politicians and even occasionally pass laws through referendums. The politicians make promises during campaigns and try to keep the promise. If they can’t keep the promise, they get kicked out and the people choose a better person.
Wow, sounds amazing! But then why are so many democratic countries so miserable?
Why Democracy is Bad:
Everywhere around the world, people complain about corrupt politicians — the very politicians that they voted for. Democracy has become “elect and regret.” In Italy, for example, every one of the last 18 Prime Ministers lasted for less than two years in the office. Or, look at the BREXIT referendum in UK, where just 32% of the adult population — 17 million — voted to leave the EU and imposed their will on others. That doesn’t sound logical or sensible.
Consider the abysmal stats in the U.S., the world’s oldest democracy:
- Only 49% of Americans even say that America has democracy!
- More puzzling is that only 73% of Americans say the democracy is very important. How about that!
- About half of all Americans don’t even bother registering and voting in presidential elections, let alone in midterm and local elections.
- Congress has had approval ratings of about 25% over the last forty five years.
- Politicians are one of the least trusted professions in the U.S. Just 8% trust members of Congress. Compare that to 84% for nurses.
Given all these terrible statistics, you would think that Americans will keep firing Congressmen and Senators. Alas, you would be wrong! More than 90% of senators and 95% of congressmen get re-elected every year!
This is because the system is rigged and the people are irrational. Thanks to gerrymandering, most congressional districts are solidly blue or red, guaranteeing a one-party system. And the parties don’t offer candidates who are going to disrupt the status quo. As for the people, they keep getting bamboozled by the same slogans and rhetoric.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Why Democracy is Ugly:
George Carlin once said, “Think about how stupid the average person is. Now, consider that half the people are stupider than the average person.” Yeah, most people don’t understand economics, geopolitics, psychology, history, philosophy, science etc. They have a shallow understanding and are emotional. Trapped in religious, tribal, racial or political ideologies, they keep supporting wrong policies and politicians.
As H.L. Mencken said, “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
This is why populists like Trump, Modi (in India) and Bolsonaro (in Brazil) get elected. They offer easy solutions packed inside emotional boxes. Mob mentality takes over the society.
Even the founders of America feared the mob and thus created an extremely complicated “Republic” or representative democracy with numerous checks and balances.
Moreover, even if you let people vote, the losers always complain about irregularities or cheating. Elections are “free and fair” only when a voter gets what he/she wants! Trump now refusing to concede shouldn’t be shocking, since that’s what the U.S. does all the time when it wants to conduct regime change in other countries. The U.S. has orchestrated “color revolutions” and coups in many countries such as Bolivia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia etc. by organizing big protests when the pro-U.S. leader lost the election.
Why Democracy is Fake:
America doesn’t even allow a major third party candidate to succeed. People are stuck with Coca Cola and Pepsi. And the people get diabetes regardless of how many times they switch between those two drinks.
Also, democracy doesn’t work since the system is really controlled by the rich and the powerful. As World Bank’s chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz, said, “America is of the 1%, for the 1% and by the 1%.” And the 1% don’t fear the 99%, since Liberals and Conservatives are brainwashed to hate each other. Divide and Rule is an incredibly powerful strategy!
BTW, it has always been like this. The founders of the United States were also rich elites who wanted to maintain their wealth, even if it meant protecting horrendous systems like slavery of African Americans and genocide of Native Americans. In the first U.S. election, only about 5% of the population was eligible to vote! Only free white men who owned lands could vote.
Fast forward to the 21st century: America, and most of the world, are run by the global class of interlinked banks and corporations — don’t forget that mainstream media are also giant corporations. Corporate lobbyists fund the politicians’ campaigns. It takes tens of millions of dollars to run for the U.S. Senate and more than a billion dollars to win the U.S. Presidency. There is also a revolving door between corporations and all branches/agencies of the government.
The voting system also seems rigged — 1000s of voting machines with outdated operating systems, new systems that are connected to the Internet, lack of transparency, and faulty software/code. Voting machine company Dominion has Canadian founders and works with Spanish companies like Scytl. Wouldn’t it be better if all these companies are American? Mainstream media has had many reports like HBO’s documentary “Hacking Democracy”, NY Times articles, and PBS NewsHour that revealed how vulnerable and problematic the voting machines are. Here’s a collection of three short clips:
Considering the revelations of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, let’s just say that anything that’s connected to the Internet is susceptible.
There are also numerous loopholes in the US voting system that need to be fixed — voter registration, databases with dead people, non-citizens possibly voting, lack of ID requirements etc. Here’s a blog post detailing these problems.
So, vote all you want. But the rich will almost always get what they want. More importantly, they can block anything that they don’t want. This is exactly the conclusion of a Princeton study, which said that America is an oligarchy. People like Kishore Mahbubani prefer the term “plutocracy” to describe modern America. But this applies to pretty much any nation in the world.
China is a partial exception, since the socialist government has more power than corporations and banks. (This is also why America Inc. hates China so much). Even billionaires in China get spanked by the government — as Jack Ma learned when his Ant Group IPO got halted at the last minute.
The Chinese political system is based on meritocracy and runs more like an efficient corporation. Politicians get promoted based on tangible metrics like GDP growth. Eschewing the dysfunctional democracy dramas, the CCP (or, more accurately, CPC) keeps track of public sentiments through polls and controls messaging through censorship. While not a perfect system, it has been delivering consistently and remarkably over the last forty years. Finally, rather than worrying about the next election or fickle-minded voters, competent and visionary Chinese leaders work on long-term strategies — planning 10, 20 and 30 years ahead.
In an email exposed by Wikileaks, a famous author and a government insider — Bill Ivey — wrote to John Podesta (Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager) that the elites “conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry.” He didn’t say it was wrong, but only bemoaned that while people are still ignorant, they are not obedient anymore!
The problem in America is that too many angry people on the left (like Antifa) and the right (like the non-college-educated Trump supporters) are totally misguided about the real problems and solutions. And they are too brainwashed to change.
Democracy works only when people are smart, educated, informed, objective, moral, and compassionate. (The compassion should also extend towards other people in the world. Thus, you cannot be against racism and exploitation at home and then support imperialism and wars abroad).
Looking at the situation objectively, there is only one conclusion: There’s no hope! LOL. Will there be a civil war in America? Will the system breakdown? Who knows! Imagine the situation when America is no longer #1 or when the U.S. dollar loses its reserve currency status. Pray hard or make plans to move to a peaceful, remote country!