US democracy is the height of hypocrisy-Xinhua

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Photo taken on Dec. 28, 2018 shows the reflection of Capitol Hill on the door of an ambulance in Washington DC, United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

The ugly truth of American democracy: Elections are political spectacles that deceive the American people. So-called democracy is, in fact, a game of power and money.

BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — Democrats are funding Republican primaries to try to nominate more potentially beatable candidates. Republicans are ferrying migrants to Democrat-run cities to protest immigration policy. Both sides are busy gerrymandering to gain the upper hand. Former President Donald Trump has been investigated by the FBI, while Paul Pelosi, the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked in his home.

Such political drama, seemingly endless as the US midterm elections approach, has exposed the ugly truth of American democracy: Elections are political spectacles that deceive the American people. So-called democracy is, in fact, a game of power and money.

“WE ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE”

Elections have long been touted by the United States as the epitome of democracy. In the United States, the electoral system is a two-party system in which the Democratic Party and the Republican Party dominate the political field.

The system has intensified partisan fighting, leading to political division and extremism across the country. Amid endless fighting, outstanding issues that concern the well-being of the American people, such as gun violence, abortion rights, inflation, the COVID-19 and monkeypox outbreaks, remain unresolved. suspense.

This year’s midterm elections are no exception but even more bizarre. Democrats fund ads to support far-right Republicans they deem more beatable.

According to a Washington Post report, in at least nine US states, including Colorado, Illinois and Maryland, Democrats have spent more than US$53 million to encourage more hardline Republican candidates.

The report found that Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee in the swing state of Pennsylvania, has a real chance of winning office thanks to a new boost from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, who has funded ads for Mastriano in that state’s primary.

“I’m going to have to send him a thank you card,” Mastriano joked of Shapiro in an interview with local media.

The partisan fight becomes more dramatic as the date of the elections approaches. Since September, busloads of migrants have been dropped outside the residence of US Vice President Kamala Harris. Last week, Paul Pelosi was assaulted by a mugger who broke into his San Francisco home.

The abnormal competition between the two parties has nothing to do with the real interests of the American people, who are increasingly dissatisfied with the elites of Washington.

A Quinnipiac University poll in August found that 67% of Democratic and Republican respondents said they believed American democracy was in danger of collapsing.

“We are playing with fire,” former Democratic House leader Richard Gephardt said. “Democracy is a fragile thing.”

A SYSTEM THAT FOUGHT PEOPLE

More than 200 years ago, the United States chose representative democracy when it was founded, from which the American Electoral College was born. “Unfair from day one,” is how The New York Times described the system.

Seen from the history, “all men are created equal” from the United States Declaration of Independence is ironic, given how white men enjoy outsized privileges in the United States.

White women gained the legal right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924, and their right to vote was not legally recognized in all states until 1962.

African Americans won the right to vote in 1870, but this right was not fully realized until the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Today, poor African Americans still face many obstacles, even in getting to the polls. From 1870 to 2021, from Hiram Revels to Rafael Warnock, the United States has had only 11 African American senators over the past century and a half.

Today, Americans seem to be empowered by their rights to run for office and to vote. Yet the American electoral system is essentially monopolized by a very few.

There remains a clear gap between the makeup of Congress and the demographic structure of the United States, and ethnic minorities are still grossly underrepresented. According to statistics released by the Pew Research Center, non-Hispanic white Americans make up 77% of voting members in the current Congress, which is considerably higher than their 60% share of the US population as a whole.

Gerrymandering is a typical American type of political manipulation of electoral district boundaries to create an unfair advantage for a party, group, or socioeconomic class within the district. It was named after American politician Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Massachusetts in 1812, who signed a bill creating a partisan district in the Boston area that has been compared to the shape of a mythological salamander.

US states redraw congressional districts once a decade based on population census results, providing a loophole for the party in charge in a state to gain an advantage.

Manipulation has two major tactics: one is to “crack”, which means to dilute the voting power of opposing party supporters in many districts, and the other is to “pack”, which means to concentrate power of the opposing party in one district to reduce their electoral power in the other constituencies. Through such manipulation, politicians choose voters instead of the other way around.

For example, African Americans make up 27% of the population of the US state of Alabama. After the 2020 census, 60% of African Americans in Alabama were assigned to a congressional district, resulting in a lower proportion of African Americans in other districts. Therefore, it was difficult for their votes to have an impact on the elections in these constituencies.

Injustice is rampant in the American electoral system. According to a report released by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice in May, 18 U.S. states have passed 34 restrictive election laws since 2021, which could disproportionately affect voters of color. “Voters of color routinely face longer wait times on Election Day — lines that would be exacerbated by the removal of alternative options, such as voting by mail or long hours for early voting. “, according to the study of the center.

“American democracy was never meant to be democratic,” Harvard University professor Louis Menand said in an opinion piece published by The New Yorker in August.

“The partisan crack-and-packaging redistricting tactics aren’t just flaws in the system — they’re the system,” he said.

MONETARY POLICY

“There are two things that are important in (American) politics. One is money and I can’t remember what the second is,” said Mark Hanna, who once helped William McKinley win the US presidential elections.

In American-style elections, candidates must spend a fortune to increase their influence. Running election campaigns, launching advertising campaigns and distributing advertising brochures requires tons of money.

Elections in the United States have become an exchange of power and money, in which the voting process is a cover to empower capitalists. The so-called “one person, one vote” enshrined in American democracy is, in fact, “one dollar, one vote”.

Money took more control of American politics after Supreme Court rulings in 2010 and 2014 that overturned financial restrictions and allowed corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections. Former US President Jimmy Carter once admitted that the United States is an oligarchy instead of a democracy.

The American site OpenSecrets indicates that the total cost of the 2022 midterm federal elections is expected to exceed $9.3 billion. More than $4.8 billion has already been spent on the election, putting federal election spending on track to surpass the 2018 inflation-adjusted midterm record of $7.1 billion.

After taking power, politicians also want to have a piece of the pie. In September, a New York Times analysis found that “at least 97 current members of Congress have bought or sold stocks, bonds, or other financial assets that overlap with their work in Congress or have reported similar transactions by their spouse or dependent child”.

What is more detrimental is the “revolving door” embedded in American society. Many American politicians and senior civil servants come from the business sector, while many return to private practice for well-paying jobs after resigning or leaving office. Some even open their own businesses offering lobbying or consulting services using their experience in government.

“Corruption in the United States does not come from officials putting money in their pockets,” said Fred Wertheimer, an American lawyer and activist known for his work on campaign finance reform.

“This is a systemic corruption of the process itself. When you’re dealing with billions and billions of dollars, a lot of it going into buying influence, it overwhelms the system and it’s much more difficult to defend and maintain representation for ordinary Americans.”

Gary Younge, professor of sociology at the University of Manchester, once said that dollars played a decisive role in American politics. He wrote: “US Elections: No matter who you vote for, money always wins.

In 1863, the ideal democratic government of the United States was portrayed by then US President Abraham Lincoln in his landmark Gettysburg Address as “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

More than 150 years later, the fig leaf of democracy can no longer cover the corruption of the American political system. Kishore Mahbubani, a Singaporean scholar, summed it up nicely in his book The Asian 21st Century. “Americans are proud of their democratic political system. But the facts show that America looks more and more like a plutocracy, where society is ruled by the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.”

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