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Running head: IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 1
((Is Democracy Dying In The USA?))
IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 2
Is Democracy Dying In The USA?
Introduction
In recent years, there have been a growing research on the health of democracy in the United
States and other countries across the world. Carothers, Brown and Frances (2018) article titled
Can U.S. Democracy Policy Survive Trump? And Ramose (2010) research on The death of
democracy and the resurrection of timocracy are some of the recent entries in an expanding list
of literature on the democracy crisis. Bowman (2018), through an article on Forbes, argues that
democracy could be heading towards a cliff. The contributor presents several recordings of
public opinions on their support of democracy. The author notes that there is steady decline
support for democracy in the United States. The lack of support is more conspicuous among the
millennial. Surveys indicate there is notable erosion in pride in how democracies function.
According to Bowman (2018), pride in democracy has declined from a score of 79% recorded in
1996 to 63% in 2018. Although Americans agree on the fundamental values and ideals, the
country seems to be falling short in protecting these values. A study by Pew Research Center
indicates that only 18 percent of people in the United States feel democracy is working very
well. A clear majority of the citizens feels that democracy is getting weaker. Although a large
number of people still supports the general values and ideals of a democratic system, there is a
growing dissatisfaction with the level performance of democracy in the United States. Many
people believe that a democracy, where the majority choose the leaders, who decide what law
becomes, is a good system of governance. However, not many are satisfied with the current set
up of democracy in the country.
Bowman (2018) observes that most of democratic ills that having affecting America existed even
before President Trump. Most Americans have shown concerns over the increasing partisan
IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 3
polarization, civility deficit, bipartisan cooperation, and the increasing role of money in politics.
There are also concerns of media bias, outside interference of the country’s politics and
elections, and voter’s apathy as some of the factors leading to the decline of democracy. Trump’s
rhetoric and actions have been heavily blamed for the ailing democracy and exacerbated
divisions in the country. Although the concerns identified by citizens are real, the country does
not seem to be abandoning democracy as a system of government. The main worries lie in the
way the democracy is working in practice, and the performance of groups, institutions and
individuals within the democratic system.
Democracy under Trump
According to Carothers, Brown and Frances (2018), democracy in the USA has reached its
lowest level during the Trump’s tenure. The U.S. policies and support for democracies around
the world have been criticized since Trump took over as a president. Many are the opinion that
the country has significantly lowered its global influence on democracy since December 2016
when Trump became President. The president’s criticism of democratic allies, his support for
dictatorial regimes and his anti-democratic actions in the country, have portrayed America as an
inactive actor of global democracy. The democracy assistance programs overseas have greatly
declined over the years. Over the years Trump has embraced dictators while he has largely
ignored democratic partners. His advisers and secretary of state do little to dispel fears that he
does not support democratic regimes. They have done little to prevent his anti-democratic
actions, but only raised concerns over his transaction foreign policies and lack of commitment to
the values and ideals of democracy. Carothers, Brown and Frances (2018) argue that if the
current trends continue for the next two years, the US will find itself caught in the sidelines of
IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 4
democracy or on the unwanted side of global struggles of democracy. At the moment, most
democracies are struggling than ever before.
Trump’s praise of dictators such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, Saudi
Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, China’s Xi Jinping, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, and Egypt’s
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has not helped but reinforced fears that America’s democracy is on the
decline. He has also made disrespectful comments towards democratic leaders in North America,
Europe and Asia. These comments have not portrayed democracies in the right way. Trump has
generally shown lack of interest in the fate of global democracy unlike his predecessors. It is
notable that the President has not illustrated any ambition to support or assist the growth of
democracy in the world. His complete disregard of democracy abroad marks Trump as
indifferent to the general framework of the U.S. foreign policy. Traditionally, efforts to advance
democracy have been the main agenda of the U.S. foreign policy. Trump has rejected the idea of
building global security allies, opening international trade, and empowering democracy as key
pursuits of the country. His each country for itself and transactional approach has no place for
pursuits of international liberal order or the convergence of the globe around the liberal
democracy. His continued broadcast of messages that go against the spirit of democracy have
made worse the position of the country as a democratic leader. He has shown disdain towards
free press, contempt for truth and disrespect to the rule of law. His ideals strongly align with
those of a illiberal strongmen leaders that are emerging around the globe. There are many more
anti-democratic actions and convictions that have been displayed by Trump during his
presidency. His governance has been divisive in a way that is a hallmark of dictatorial regimes.
He has generally inflamed ethnic divisions, racial hatred, intolerance, and support for corruption
among senior members of his team. He has questioned basic electoral processes, demonstrated
IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 5
nepotism and bias, and threatened citizens who do not support his ideals. The U.S. presidency
has become a symbol of the declining democracy around the world.
Rise of Timocracy in Place of Democracy
According to Ramose (2010), democracy is slowly being washed away and instead it is replaced
by timocracy. For many years, wealth has been used as a yardstick for the status of an individual
in a society or community. However, what has defined wealth has changed from time to time.
Power within a family has been closely related with the ownership of wealth. Ownership of
wealth is related to authority to influence social and government morality. The replacement of
democracy with the rule by money is quite disturbing. Timocracy undermines the basic
principles and values of a democracy (Ramose, 2010). The justice for human cannot prevail in a
timocractic society. Many democracies are choosing leaders based on their ownership of
property and influence. Timocracy has generally undermined the general principles of
democracy and the legitimacy of government. According to Ramose (2010), in the United States,
timocracy was inaugurated by President Eisenhower in his speech in 17 January 1961 (Ramose,
2010). The president urged the citizens to guard themselves from unwarranted influence. His
warning was based from the knowledge, insight and experience on how governments operate
(Ramose, 2010). According to him, the rise of wealth as measure of leadership would erode the
will of the people. This form of governance is illegitimate and undermine the principle of
popular sovereignty. The vital principle of accountability to citizens has been eroded by
timocracy (Ramose, 2010). The primary motive of such system is to promote and to protect selfinterests in pursuit of money and wealth. Trump’s presidency typifies the rising timocracy
globally. His presidency represents the ideals of the wealthy rather than the will of the people.
Global Ascendance of Autocracy
IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 6
Autocracy is a system of governance where one person has absolute powers. Mounk and Foa
(2018) note that the rise of this form of leadership has threaten democracy. The authors observe
that at the end of the Second World War, the wealth amassed by the United States helped to
established itself as a global leader. The US became more influential and the political system of
liberal democracy became dominant (Mounk & Foa, 2018). Democracy spread across the world,
and could have been attributed to its appeal. Many countries transitioned from dictatorship to
democracy due to the influence from the US. It can be argued that these countries changed their
system of governance due to their interests in liberal democracy and the values it enshrined.
However, it has become evident that citizens were not attracted to liberal democracy because of
its values, but as a channel of gaining geopolitical and economic success. Other historical aspects
that strengthened democracy include the economic growth of countries in Europe and the victory
of these democratic states in the Cold War (Mounk & Foa, 2018). However, as democracies fail
to improve the livelihoods of its citizenry, many movements have emerged to disavow liberal
democracy. Many citizens feel that democracy is not important in their lives. A growing majority
is open to authoritarian systems of governance. Between 1995 and 2017, the number of citizens
in Italy, Germany and France who favored autocratic systems of governance tripled (Mounk &
Foa, 2018). Recent elections around the world reinforce this findings. Authoritarian populists
who have little regard to the general principles of democracy have emerged as strong candidates
across Europe and North America in the past ten years (Mounk & Foa, 2018). Authoritarian
strongmen in Asia and Eastern Europe are turning democratic states into autocratic ones.
IS DEMOCRACY DYING IN THE USA? 7
References
Bowman, K. (2018). Democracy In Crisis? Forbes. Retrieved from
www.forbes.com/sites/bowmanmarsico/2018/08/15/democracy-in-crisis/#2cd7e75355c6
Carothers, T., Brown, F., Frances, Z. (2018). Can U.S. Democracy Policy Survive Trump?
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Articles; Washington, Washington:
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Mounk, Y., & Foa, R. S. (2018). The End of the Democratic Century: Autocracy’s Global
Ascendance. Foreign Aff., 97, 29.
Ramose, M. B. (2010). The death of democracy and the resurrection of timocracy. Journal of
Moral Education, 39(3), 291-303.
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