US democracy trumps all as a dysfunctional disgrace

I’m always happy to find someone who agrees with me . . . especially if that someone has serious academic credentials. In this case, the writer, Mark Triffitt, is a lecturer on public policy at the University of Melbourne.

Jan 13, 2016

“As the rest of the world looks upon America’s 2016 presidential race and what has become a disgrace of a democratic system, its bewilderment can be organised around a series of hows and whys.



“How can a political and policy freak show like Donald Trump become a serious contender for the job America touts as “leader of the free world”?

“Why has the democratic “competition of ideas” become so degraded that Trump’s thought bubble to ban more than 20 per cent of the world’s population (Muslims) from entering America has passed relatively unimpeded into mainstream policy debate?

“More broadly, how can the race for America’s top job be so short on facts and logic that nearly every leading 2016 presidential candidate is uttering outright lies, mostly false statements or half-truths at least half the time they open their mouths?

“Why will it take nearly US$2 billion in campaign funding to win this year’s presidential race and lead a country founded on the idea that “anyone can become president”?

“Why, in this day and age, has the top job devolved into a dynastic possession? If Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2016, two families (Bush and Clinton) will have alternated in the White House for 24 of the 32 years from 1989 to 2021.


Or her? Now there’s a choice for you!

“How and why can the US government spy on its own citizens with a scope and intensity that make the KGB and other former communist spy agencies look like rank amateurs?

“Questions such as these go on and on. Separately and collectively, they speak to the absence of the bare bones of a fair, free and moderate democratic system.

“Many Americans – thanks to the media’s relentless coverage of Washington politics – view the value of their broader democratic system through a national lens. As a result of congressional gridlock and a string of high-level corruption and ethical scandals, they are turning off and away from the system wholesale.

“The proportion of US citizens who trust government is down to less than one in five.

“The big irony in the massive decline in the quality of America’s democratic governance over the past two decades is this: it has coincided with a period in which the US has aggressively stepped up its efforts to promote and embed this same system around the world.

“US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as America’s support for the Arab Spring of 2011 have been predicated on replacing autocratic regimes with American-style representative democracy. Jawboning China to adopt more democratic practices likewise reflects the same bizarre tendency among many of America’s political and policy elites to promote what are damaged goods at home as being somehow ‘ripe for export’.”

Read the whole article


3 thoughts on “US democracy trumps all as a dysfunctional disgrace

  1. What is often overlooked in American democracy is the Electoral College, a buffer that can skew election results: ” On four occasions, most recently in 2000, the Electoral College system has resulted in the election of a candidate who did not receive the most popular votes in the election” source:
    As there not being much change, I’d like to point out that Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney have spent more time in the White House in various functions than any President, with a history dating back to the days of Gerald Ford.
    Single issue politics have also hampered significant change; with the exception of re-elections, for as long as I can remember, a candidates stance on abortion was often the key issue. “Dubya” Bush was an anti abortion candidate, but Gerald Ford commented before his death that he personally knew that the Bushes were not anti abortion. The Obama election is the only one I remember where abortion was not front and center. It doesn’t really surprise me that election turnouts are lower in recent times. Money also plays an increasingly bigger role, Rick Scott spent about 70Million to become Governor of Florida, Obama spent about the same to become president. Now what good business man spends 75Million of his own money (R. Scott) to get a job that pays a few hundred thousand per year? Come on now!……

    • Yes, I wonder how many Americans can truthfully say they understand how their electoral system works. How many years have the same two parties been taking turns to run the country? And what are the chances of a third party achieving electoral success? People criticise Turkey’s government, but the AK Party came out of nowhere in 2002 to win the election that year. Public anger and frustration with previous governments produced a peaceful revolution – which is probably why voter turnout in Turkey is generally pretty high.

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