欧美文化:Xinhua Commentary: America's democracy is too sick to serve
BEIJING, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The United States always loves to brand itself as the "beacon of democracy," but it is increasingly difficult for the American people to achieve their own interests.
Democratic politics should meet the people's aspirations for a better life, and true democracy must be effective.
However, the list of problems plaguing the United States is growing longer. Money politics, social division, hate crimes and a widening wealth gap have run rife across the nation.
The defects of U.S. democracy have penetrated into almost every corner of the political and social structures, plunging the country into a vicious circle of democratic distortion, political incapacity and social disorder.
Take the drug problem. Drug overdose deaths in the United States in the 12-month period have topped 100,000 since 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet instead of taking steps to crack down on drug dealers and addicts, U.S. governments at different levels are busy legalizing marijuana and providing "safe places" for drug addicts to inject fentanyl and heroin.
In addition to the drug problem, the out-of-control gun violence and the failed banking regulation are also the products of special interest groups and politicians putting their self-interest above the common good.
Although 71 percent of U.S. adults want to see gun laws made stricter, political polarization and lobbyists like the National Rifle Association of America, a very influential gun rights advocacy group, have hampered gun control efforts. As a result, the United States has already seen more than 130 mass shootings across the country so far this year, including the most recent attack at a school in Nashville in the U.S. state of Tennessee, in which three children and three adults were killed. And survey finds that the United States is the only nation in the world where civilian guns outnumber people. There are 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey.
The sudden collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is also a reminder of why America's political system is too ill to address the real problems facing the country.
Back in 2010, the U.S. Congress passed a bill to overhaul the country's financial regulation, requiring banks with more than 50 billion U.S. dollars in assets to undergo the Federal Reserve's annual stress tests, so as to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis in 2008.
However, with powerful bankers fighting to water down the regulation, the Congress amended the act a few years later, substantially raising the asset threshold for stress tests to 250 billion dollars. It is widely believed that deregulation leads to the accumulation of considerable risks for small and medium-sized banks.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, said "SVB represents more than the failure of a single bank. It is emblematic of deep failures in the conduct of both regulatory and monetary policy."
That is just a microcosm of the failure of America's so-called democratic governance. Government decision-making in America has been so entangled with partisan struggles, electoral politics, vested interest groups and other factors that the voice of the American people has largely been submerged.
And under the manipulation of money politics, American democracy actually represents the interests of the minority and is an out-and-out oligarchy. That is why the United States has little money to improve its fraying infrastructure but is increasingly obsessed with military expenditure. Watson Institute of Brown University estimated in its "Costs of War" report that Washington had spent over 8 trillion dollars on the post-9/11 wars by 2022.
In fact, more and more Americans are sober to the fact that America's dysfunctional political system is too ill to serve their interests. According to a Pew Center poll, 65 percent of Americans believe that the American democratic system needs major reforms, while 57 percent of respondents believe the United States is no longer a model of democracy.
"Our democracy is sick, and it's not an accident," said U.S. political activist Ezra Levin.
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