The current coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic occurring around the globe is causing there to be mistrust in governments. Specifically, citizens are wondering is their government is telling the truth and if they are properly equipped to tell their citizens how to handle the crisis. There have been issues with accurate reporting of infection numbers around the globe. Considering that this is a global issue, governments need to work together for there to be a real change in the outcomes of this virus. Democracies are struggling to regulate their citizens’ actions, such as keeping people in their homes. People are losing trust in their government and there is currently one common good that all people need to work towards which is not the normal happenings of a democracy. Through mistrust in the government’s ability to tell the truth and protect its people, the United States risks a change from democracy after this pandemic is over.
Although governments are in control of their citizens, in most democracies that power is separated. In the United States, there are two main parties that share control and make decisions for the country. Power is also split up by state legislature. All sections of the government need to come to an agreement on what guidelines they are setting for their people. If the state legislature calls for everyone to be in quarantine but the national government says that only infected people need to stay in quarantine then people are less inclined to listen to their state legislature. Unlike democracies, autocracies have better control over their citizens. There is this fear within the citizens of autocracies, not to say that that is a beneficial thing in most cases, but this does give the people one source to listen to. Trust in the United States government is at an all-time low from the last 50 years. Without that trust, combined with there not being a cohesive message coming from all forms of government, the country is losing trust in their government.
All governments need to be accurate in their reporting of data about the effects of the crisis. Mainstream media is currently the way that most people are getting their information about the pandemic. The media has always been known for checking politicians’ claims before broadcasting them to the public . However, the media is not elected by the public and many politicians attack the media for spreading false information. This leaves consumers of the media to lack trust in the mainstream media’s ability to fact-check . If the government is not giving the media accurate information then there is no way for people to know who has accurate information. This leaves room for people to come to conclusions on their own and nothing stokes rumour and fear more than the suspicion that politicians are hiding the truth. The best thing in a time of this overwhelming uncertainty, and in order to maintain democracy, the government must tell the truth. Telling the public information that they want to hear or may ease concerns but is not the truth is a common tactic of governments . But this will do nothing but cause greater mistrust in the government. In a time that people already have little faith in the government, if it is revealed that the government has been lying and the pandemic gets worse, the government will lose any support of its people.
Usually, in a democracy, there is not one common good that everyone wants to work towards. That is what keeps a democracy functioning, the healthy competition between parties of what is best for the people and coming upon compromises . However, there is currently one common good that everyone needs to follow. That common good is the health of all people. The issue is not everyone will be infected by this disease and there is a need for “collective interest to triumph over individual interest” . Even though there will be people who are completely unaffected by this pandemic, it is still important for everyone to follow the guidelines given by the government in order to help those who will be affected. That being said, “‘health’ might be desired by all, yet people would still disagree on vaccinations” . Not all people will agree on how the pandemic should be addressed but the public should find comfort in the fact that they have the resources available to them to get the help they need if they seek it. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the United States. The Trump administration cutting funding from essential health services and research before the pandemic began which in turn caused a delay in health care options for those affected by COVID-19.
Between the inability of sectors of the government to come to a consensus on what restrictions are set on their people and the overall mistrust in the government, democracy is at risk. Citizens do not believe what the government is saying or that it is properly functioning to help its people. Because of this, the government is not working as a democracy but as an ununified entity. The media can not report accurate information to the public and the repercussions after the pandemic is over could be a turning point in how the United States continues as a democracy. Barrera Rodriguez, Oscar David et al. 2018. “Facts, Alternative Facts, and Fact Checking in Times of Post-Truth Politics.” Working paper.  Gehlbach, Scott. 2010. “Reflections on Putin and the Media.” Post-Soviet Affairs 26(1): pp. 77-87.  Dahl, Robert. 1972. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. Chapter 1.  Greene, Joshua David. 2013. Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap between Us and Them. London: Atlantic Books.