In democracy US trust?

In democracy US trust?

Synopsis

Americans’ pride in their democracy plunges to 54% from 90% in 2002

In democracy US trust?
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One year after the violent assault on the US Capitol, Americans remain deeply concerned about the health of their democracy, and about a third say violence against the government can sometimes be justified, according to the recent polls conducted by the Washington Post – University of Maryland.

The January 6, 2021 attack on the seat of Congress, led by supporters of Donald Trump, was “a harbinger of increasing political violence,” and American democracy “is threatened,” according to two-thirds of those surveyed for a CBS News poll.

Meantime, Americans’ “pride” in their democracy has dropped sharply, from 90 per cent in 2002 to 54 per cent now, the Washington Post/University of Maryland survey found. The percentage of adults who say violence is justified is up, from 23 per cent in 2015 and 16 per cent in 2010 in polls by CBS News and the New York Times.

A majority continue to remain against it — but the 62 per cent who hold that view is a new low point and a stark difference from the 1990s when as many as 90 per cent said the violence was never justified.

While a 2015 survey found no significant partisan divide, the new poll identified a sharp rise with 40 per cent of Republicans and 41 per cent of independents saying it can be acceptable. The view was held by 23 per cent of Democrats, the survey finds.

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Other polls have found that more than half of Republicans believe in Trump’s lie that Biden won the White House thanks to electoral fraud, and do not trust elections.

As pointed out by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague, authors of the new book The Steal: The Attempt to overturn the 2020 Election and People Who Stopped It, Trump was ultimately stopped by “the integrity of hundreds of obscure Americans from every walk of life, state and local officials, judges and election workers. Many of them… Republicans, some… Trump supporters”.

Nonetheless, at a rally near the White House on January 6, 2020, Trump told such supporters to “fight like hell” in his cause.

“And if you don’t fight like hell,” he said, “you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

As a result, five people died, including a rioter shot by law enforcement agencies and a police officer.

Furthermore, one year on, the problems of social division, political polarisation, racial conflict and a wealth gap in the US have not eased, and are even getting worse. The survey shows the narrative of democracy of the US is also crumbling.

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The US could be under a right-wing dictatorship by 2030, Thomas Homer-Dixon, a Canadian political science professor has warned, urging his country to protect itself against the “collapse of American democracy”.

“We mustn’t dismiss these possibilities just because they seem ludicrous or too horrible to imagine,” Homer-Dixon, founding director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, wrote in The Globe and Mail.

“In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace.”

Homer-Dixon’s message was blunt: “By 2025, American democracy could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence. By 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a rightwing dictatorship.”

Polarising elements are creeping into the American mainstream, white nationalists are hijacking politics. According to the new NPR/Ipsos poll, 64 per cent Americans feel their democracy is in crisis, two-third of all republicans believe that the last presidential election was rigged and 70 per cent people say America is at risk of failing.

It clearly shows no trust in elections, a deeply polarised society and normalisation of violence. This is how democracy deteriorates and it’s not just limited to the public, even this behaviour is widely reflected in the US armed personnel.

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Extremism and white supremacy are rife in their ranks and the rules do not help, for instance, soldiers are not banned from joining extremists like the Ku Klux Klan. Last year, the US was labelled a backsliding democracy by the International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance).

Usually, Washington D.C. loves these little lists but this time they were not making it, they were actually on the list and deservedly so. We saw what happened in January last year, hundreds of protestors breaching the US Congress, if that was in West Asia or Latin America, what would have been the US reaction?

For much of its modern history, America has viewed itself as a model democracy that could serve as an example to countries that wished to emulate its success. This has been the US attitude for decades that democracy is what America says it is. It tastes like McDonald’s, it sounds like rock and roll and it looks like Hollywood.  On the other hand, the survey data show that there was a little substance to this hubris: as recently as 10 years ago, three out of every four Americans said that they were satisfied with the state of their democratic system.

During the 2008 financial crisis, this began to change. And since then, Americans have become more pessimistic about their system every single year. For the first time on record, polls show that a majority of Americans (55 per cent) are dissatisfied with their system of government.

This marks a profound shift in America’s view of itself — and its place in the world. The myth of freedom in the land of the free might be on the verge of getting busted.

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