When Perestroika started in the Soviet Union, an enormous flow of information suddenly crashed on us. It was very confusing in the beginning because, in many ways, people of the USSR used to the structured, or planned information release. Pretty much as the current situation in the United States, only shaped differently.
When suddenly the flash gates were opened, mass media started to publish so many shocking stories, whether unintentionally or otherwise, which eventually destroyed completely all those ideas that we once thought are genuine. When such major fundamental political destruction and social shifts take place, people would always try to escape ideological moral vacuum.
Therefore, because I was very young, I turned to American culture. I did not want to hear anything about politics anymore. Besides, the western option was very seductive. It was very different and entertaining.
Due to the severe devastation caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, lack of moral values and the realisation that we were intentionally misled by our own leaders, the western way was a legitimate option to choose. At least, I thought it was.
In my mind, the United States specifically was the benchmark of everything good in life. Of course, as many others, I was convinced that it is also the benchmark for democracy. More than a decade later, my views started to change. Here are main reasons why it happened.
US citizens do not have the right to vote
The word “democracy” virtually means the power of people. For any society to claim that they are democratic, at least one very fundamental right shall be in place, the right to vote directly. Besides, there must be unshakeable evidence of equality, which at least shall be translated into a solid legal and social infrastructure to ensure that each citizen has equal starting opportunity.
As far as I understand, in the United States, popular votes are not considered as the main criteria. I am not going to describe in details the process, but if we follow any presidential campaign it will be clear that it is not about popular votes. Citizens of the United States vote via intermediate and this system is called “The Winner Takes It All” (or something like this).
To vote via intermediate does not provide people with the opportunity to influence directly on political process which will eventually make an impact on every aspect of citizens’ life. Whatever justification is in place to legitimise this voting system, it does not change the substance.
The people of the United States do not directly participate in the most important process. Moreover, if we take a closer look at any presidential campaign in the United States, it becomes clear that the “winner” who “takes it all” is unlikely to represent the interest of most people.
Democracy requires social equality
Democratic countries provide a social net to those people who ended up at the edge due to many reasons, objective or otherwise. Such protection is a requirement because it serves as an indicator which highlights the level of social maturity.
It is given that the existing laws shall apply to every citizen equally. There must be no mysterious interpretation that justifies the difference of legal implications for celebrities, influential politicians or simply rich individuals and the rest of the public.
However, there is little evidence that it is the case in the United States. For instance, when celebrities get arrested, somehow, they are free to go shortly after their arrest. It is often explained that their release is due to jail overcrowd. But why are they always first to leave the facility? Isn’t it supposed to be based on a simple principle, “first come – first served”.
It appears that the justice system is more justifiable for those who have money and fame. At the same time, the majority, who do not have extra money or fame do not have the same set of privileges. I guess because in the modern world you need to pay for everything by cash, even if you want to exercise your rights.
Therefore, I would conclude that clear manifestation of inequality it terms of legal protection and civil rights is another factor that would not define the United States of America as the democratic country.
Big business pays for election campaign
It is difficult to ignore one major flow in all election campaigns. There is no candidate who capable of finishing the race if he or she do not have enough money to finance it. This is where I am confused. How come this structure is called democratic elections? Who pays for the candidates? I am quite sure that it is unlikely that the representatives of the middle class or low-income group of people to finance it. And if it is not them, then who?
According to the public sources, in Washington DC alone, few thousands of lobby firms are registered. Most of them represent interests of a certain industry or industries or groups of influential individuals or all the above. They work for their clients and shall establish close ties with the lawmakers to push the adoption and speedy implementation of new legislation that would satisfy business interests of a tiny but very influential minority.
Public sources also describe that a lion share of any election campaign’s funds provided by either industries or simply rich and influential individuals. But as they say, whoever pays, orders the music.
How come such arrangement is considered as something appropriate? I am not talking about provisions of the relevant laws of the United States. I am sure that the army of lawyers made their very best to make it look perfectly legal. Instead, I really want to understand it from common sense point of view. Where is the power of people? I honestly do not think the majority has any power for them to ensure that their rights are duly observed.
Unless we are talking about the power of people from the Wall Street. If this is the case, then I must admit that it is a remarkable transformation of the original meaning of the democracy to something totally unrecognisable. Perhaps I slept that day when the official definition of democracy was replaced because it is indeed appearing as the power of the Wall Street.
People hope that the elected officials will change faulty parts and redirect the system to its original purpose. The majority still believe that their representatives in Washington DC will do it, it just will take some time.
But why is it taking longer that everyone has expected? Why no sign of positive change for people who are not that influential? Why the gap between rich and poor is getting wider with each year. It seems that people are so confused that they do not even know how to ask these questions and demand the answers.
Unfortunately, the positive change is unlikely to happen anytime soon, unless a necessary change is implemented. Without a drastic change of the entire political system, it is not possible that politicians of the United States would represent interests of the public?
The USA many times demonstrated double standards
Well documented 2008 financial meltdown provides a clear explanation of why it happened. Millions lost their jobs, homes, some lost their lives. But CEOs of big banks and other representatives of the top management were not only left to enjoy their freedom despite all factual evidence of their wrong doings but also received enormous benefits. Therefore, if the United States of America is the democratic country, why top management of big banks are still free and not jailed?
The amount of bonus that each of them has been paid to themselves look like a phone number including international dialling code. Informed actions of banks triggered the hardest recession across the globe. And yet, it was not enough for the banking industry to realise that it is not the right time for bonus payments.
And standards of Common Sense, every CEO of those banks had to be prosecuted and imprisoned due to the crimes they seem to have committed. Interesting, why it was not possible?
At the same time, a person can be shot by police for way lesser crime. Although I must admit that sometimes in the United States people can be short by police for not committing any crime at all (I guess this is probably the only privilege of regular people in the 21st century democracy, but if it is a privilege, then why the 1% have never tried to monopolise it?).
So many were killed by the very representatives of the law enforcement body which has been established to protect and serve those very people whom they have killed without any reasonable justification.
This is a very ugly reality of the country that is still considered by many as a benchmark of democracy. However, in accordance with my understanding of Common Sense, it cannot be qualified as the democratic state due to lack of fundamental components that form the democracy.