When it comes to America’s democracy, we can say that it is most likely free, and that being free is welcomed in the country. However, that is not the case because America’s democracy is falling apart day by day. There is a fight for power in countries as to who will be the leader and be given all the power and whether it should be up to the people of the country to live freely and not be under the control of government officials and have to fear their lives every day. America’s democracy faces democratic crisis where there is a continuous assault on democratic norms and values, a displacement to where Americans feel that the system is being unresponsive to their needs, the government is not willing to advocate for their interests and when populism rises to a point where it becomes a problem because they are given too much freedom.
According to the article “On Democratic Backsliding” by Nancy Bermeo, “democratic backsliding can involve rapid and radical change across a broad range of institutions, can lead to outright democratic breakdowns and to regimes that are unambiguously authoritarian and more likely to yield political systems that are ambiguously democratic or hybrid. They can also constitute democratic breakdown or weakening of existing democratic institutions.” If this process isn’t understood it can make it difficult for the people of the democracy to defend themselves and live freely since they are constantly fighting over power and aren’t able to work together in order like they should in a democratic government. So instead of focusing on improving what their country is lacking, they are fighting over power so that only they get to rule the whole country and so that the people of the country will live under their control. The type of power this can be seen as is called authoritarianism since this allows only a certain group of people to make decisions for the whole country instead of letting the people of the country decide for themselves to think about what they what, why they want and how will it improve their future as well as their country’s future. In the United States case, Trump believes that his actions are helping the economy grow but he isn’t taking into count of what the people want him to change so that they can be benefitted. He isn’t listening to his own people and fulfilling their needs as a president should because it is his responsibility to make sure that his decisions are benefitting the people who have always been defending him and giving him more than one chance to become a better president.
Populism is also making it hard for democracy to rise and continue to grow in the world. “The rise of populist fueled authoritarianism has been difficult to defeat and gives rise to the personalist dictatorship of where democracies are at risk because they are not stable” according to Andrea Taylor and Erica Frantz. For example, when a candidate comes in power and has full control of their people and what they can do it becomes hard for the country to function together. This can lead to numerous amounts of wars, violence and riots which can demolish the structure on what democracy is being built on. If you take Trump’s presidency for example, he hasn’t made it easy for the people of his country to voice their opinions and tell him what they need. No matter how much he preaches that he wants to make the country more welcoming for the citizens, he still is controlling and punishing them for their actions because he believes that what he says is and will always be right for his people. Populist claim that liberal norms and policies weaken the democracy of the country and harm the people that live there, but the problem is that growing competition between countries puts pressure on those policies that have been designed to protect the citizens against the risks of democratic backsliding.
Leaders of populism attack “enemies of the people” who most likely want to corrupt the system and stir up complications usually aimed directly towards liberal democracies. These can lead to “undermine freedom of the press, weaken constitutional courts, concentrate power in the hands of the executive, and marginalize groups of citizens based on ethnicity, religion, or national origin of liberal democracy from within” says Galston. This then creates the democratic backsliding of the country because it is weakening the government of the country to be democratic and express a full form of freedom into their country. If the government of the system ends up becoming weak and their country loses stability, they can potentially end up collapsing and other countries can take advantage of how they do not have that stability anymore. The goal of the country, take the United States for example, is to make sure that the people within its country have the right to freedom and to not be controlled by a government or official. Yes, the government should, at necessary times, interfere with making sure that the people of their country are fulfilling their responsibilities, but they should not feel that they have all the power to control what their people do and how they live their life and should aim for a more democratic approach that will benefit them and their people. If you take what both sides are urging for you to consider, then there can be a compromise made in order to fulfill all of their requests and better the relationship and understanding that will be created within the people and government and the people will learn to trust the government more and comply to what is being needed for them. In order to run a successful democracy, there needs to be an understanding of what is asked to be done and what should be done.
Edel, Charles. “Democracy Is Fighting for Its Life.” Foreign Policy, 8 Dec. 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/09/10/democracy-is-fighting-for-its-life/.
Galston, William A. “The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy.” Brookings, Brookings, 14 Dec. 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-populist-challenge-to-liberal-democracy/.
Bermeo, Nancy. “On Democratic Backsliding.”
I agree that the current state of democracy in America is definitely decaying. When you start your argument off with authoritarianism and how only a small group is getting there voices heard, I immediately thought of how Donald Trump lost the popular election, therefore representing the views of less Americans than Hillary Clinton. Trump also polls poorly with minority communities, with a strong representation of straight, white men, who have been in control of the country for so long that they see rising equality as themselves losing rights, when in reality it is just evening the playing field. When you talk about how Trump is making it hard for people to voice their opinions, I thought of his discrediting of the press. This is making it hard for opposition voices to be heard legitimately. To your “enemies of the people” point, I think this is clearly showcased in his travel bans on Muslim countries. This increases islamophobia within the United States. I myself have seen people post on Facebook calls to remove the very few Muslims from Congress just because they are Muslim, no doubt influenced by President Trump. American democracy is indeed in a scary place!