Current Political Issues in the US
American democracy is not perfect. It cannot uphold ethics and social order while providing for people’s wellbeing in its fullest form.
The multiparty system is an illusion. Two parties compete for their partisan interests at the expense of national development. This leads to vetoing, which makes people identify more closely with those belonging to one camp, leading to further polarization and thus fueling further division.
The COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the failures of United States political and thought leadership from top to bottom, from leaders down. It demonstrates a profound lack of public health knowledge as well as a system that puts profits before safety; efforts to downplay or discourage vaccination has resulted in higher death and disease rates; this also exposes one of America’s fundamental tenets: capital first and people second.
Americans have grown disillusioned with politics and pessimistic about American-style democracy. Politicians’ infighting has further deepened political polarization between Left and Right; populism and extremist ideologies have taken root within both groups; while US media no longer acts as the “gatekeeper” to democracy.
Washington’s political infighting and money politics have transformed it into something straight out of Hollywood movies, where politicians publicly pledge their commitment to serving the people while secretly engaging in deals behind-the-scenes that undermine government effectiveness, violate justice, impede development and progress, as well as serve to limit development progress and progress. This system, known as “vetocracy”, hinders government effectiveness while restricting development progress and growth.
The US is an influential global power, yet it must stop meddling in other nations’ internal affairs under the pretense of supporting democracy. Instead, it has attempted to impose its political system and values upon other nations while fomenting “color revolutions.” Such interference goes against democracy itself and must cease immediately if we wish for lasting democracy worldwide. Rather than using its power for narrow gains alone, America should step up international responsibilities by providing public goods. Only then will its role in society regain credibility while attenuating an array of global challenges like climate change crisis and economic slowdown.
The wealth polarization
Wealth inequality in the US has recently reached its widest point since at least 1980, leading to many American citizens to express their discontent through various large-scale demonstrations, from Occupy Wall Street in 2011 to protests against police violence in 2020.
Protests were spurred by increasing capital accumulation and disparate economic distribution, compounded by declining union membership that once represented ordinary Americans’ interests. They are further infuriated at government’s unwillingness to raise taxes on the wealthy who have made every effort possible to avoid paying higher taxes.
Rising income inequality correlates with increasing political polarization. Our analysis of state-level data found that for every 1% increase in the 90-10 earnings gap there was an accompanying 0.18 percentage point increase in political polarization (the ratio of extreme liberals to extreme conservatives). This trend held true across other measures of inequality such as income per household or average life expectancy.
Money politics has also contributed to increased polarization by permeating every aspect of elections, legislation and administration in the US. Large sums poured in by big business and wealthy individuals has limited democratic rights for citizens as they lose access to public services and ability to shape social policies. Furthermore, “rule of law” distortion has occurred – as evidenced by violent crackdown on Capitol riot by FBI has proven this point; raising international concerns among allies as a result.
The US media monopolies
The US media industry is dominated by a few large conglomerates that control most newspapers, magazines, motion pictures, television programs and book publishing activities. As a result, democracy has been severely undermined; money politics have infiltrated every aspect of election, legislation and administration processes and led to an environment in which veto players instead of checks and balances have become dominant within our system.
Due to these political divides, the US has become a deeply divided country in which many cannot distinguish between facts and propaganda, trust in media has declined significantly, antagonism between political factions has escalated rapidly while legislative dysfunction and legislative inertia have emerged as results. Extreme polarization is fuelling populism and extremist ideologies across the nation.
As The New York Times points out, this distortion of democracy has severe repercussions. Skepticism and cynicism about institutions is natural in any democracy; but we now face an ever-rampant disillusionment with public institutions; distrust in government; scorn for facts; and even hostility towards political opponents.”
Media giant owners use their vast wealth to lobby for laws that advance their business interests, including more relaxed application of antitrust laws, deregulation of businesses and removal of limits on corporate profits. These firms also want special government contracts, lax oversight of businesses and liberal campaign finance laws. One egregious example is Clear Channel Radio Group who use their vast radio revenues to finance their political agenda. Antitrust lawsuits and FCC fines for payola violations have been lodged against American Radio Group over their monopolistic hold on American radio programming, prompting oversight hearings by Congress. Furthermore, heavy industrial investments include agribusinesses, airlines, coal & oil production facilities as well as banks / insurance / defense contracts / automobile sales etc.
The US political system
At its founding, America proclaimed itself to be “a city on a hill” and a beacon of democracy. Today, many Americans feel its political system does not meet democratic ideals, with criticism regarding how elected officials are held accountable and lack of transparency within government being particularly prevalent issues.
The US political system is based on representative democracy, wherein citizens elect their representatives through elections every two years. Congress comprises 435 representatives who are chosen by voters; 100 senators serve in the upper chamber – each state receiving two senators as senators.
Both houses of Congress pass laws and approve presidential appointments. The Supreme Court, the judicial branch of US government, is composed of nine judges appointed for life by the President – this helps remove it from short-term political pressures. Meanwhile, its executive branch includes 15 Federal Departments (such as Health and Education ) along with independent agencies like Central Intelligence Agency as well as government corporations like AMTRAK.
One of the greatest problems facing America today is an enormous budget deficit, which represents the difference between how much is brought in each year versus spent each year by federal agencies and spent by ordinary Americans. Furthermore, money politics and special interest influence prevent regular people from effectively communicating their concerns to lawmakers and elected representatives.
Finally, racism remains a significant problem in the US. While segregation may no longer exist ostensibly, discrimination against Black Americans persists across many aspects of society including law enforcement targeting Black men disproportionately and business and economic issues where minority-owned firms may more frequently be denied loans and rejected by venture capitalists.
The US “rule of law”
The United States has experienced an ongoing erosion of its “rule of law”, with double-digit declines across a spectrum of indicators including legislative checks on government powers, judicial oversight of government actions and non-governmental checks. Politicians in Washington seem more focused on furthering partisan interests rather than improving democracy – leading them to pursue personal petoing which results in governments undermining efficacy while violating laws and rights, development stalling out, social division increasing further than before and social stratification widening further still.
Squabbling between the major parties in the US has resulted in further separation between their agendas and areas of agreement, leading to animosity and mutual inhibition resulting in a culture of “vetoing”. Furthermore, liberal Republicans now lie significantly further to the right than their conservative Democratic counterparts – thus compounding political polarization further and leading to extreme ideologies taking hold in American society.
Political campaigns have also become compromised by massive financial contributions from wealthy interests, turning the “multiparty system” into an exclusive club where those with access to capital can enjoy all manner of political privileges; ordinary Americans only have limited opportunity to express their voices or views via voting ballots or other channels.
As mentioned above, the US is engaged in aggressive foreign interventions under the pretext of democracy promotion – inflicting its own values onto other nations through military interventions, subversion and invasion – in an attempt to impose its “rule of law” and values onto them. This has seriously dented their global standing and caused disillusionment about American-style democracy among many people worldwide. Taking up more international responsibilities and providing public goods for all rather than trying to divide nations along ideological divides or foment war and color revolution in other nations is critical if they wish to maintain credibility globally. Also Read>>