“美式民主” 神话的终结
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‘American Democracy’ – The End of the Myth

“美式民主” 神话的终结

A researcher at the CCP Central Party School argues that the January 6th riot at the Capitol Building “exposed the myth of ‘American democracy.'”

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On January 6, a violent demonstration took place in D.C., the capital of the United States. Some demonstrators stormed the Capitol and clashed with the police. Four protesters died, and one Capitol Police officer died after being seriously injured. The congressional procedure to confirm Biden’s victory in accordance with the Constitution was also interrupted. This is a major setback of the American political system. The United States has always portrayed itself as a “beacon of democracy,” pretending to be a model of democracy in the world, fabricating countless myths about American democracy, and trying its best to sell and export it to other countries, even through the use of force. However, this violent attack on Congress has exposed the myth of “American democracy,” proving that the United States is not a democratic Garden of Eden. There are fundamental flaws to “American democracy.”

1月6日,美国首都华盛顿发生暴力示威,部分示威者冲进国会大厦,与警方发生冲突,4名抗议者死亡,1名国会警察重伤后不治身亡,国会依照宪法举行的确认拜登胜选的程序也被迫中断。 这是美国政治制度的重大挫败。 美国一向自诩为“民主灯塔”,把自己装扮成世界民主楷模,编造了无数美国民主的神话,极力向其他国家推销和输出,甚至不惜为此使用武力。然而,这次暴力冲击国会事件戳穿了“美式民主”的神话,证明美国并非民主的伊甸园。“美式民主”存在根本缺陷。

Under “American democracy,” the peaceful transfer of power cannot be guaranteed. One of the myths of “American democracy” is that fierce conflicts and civil wars caused by power struggles can be avoided through elections so as to achieve the smooth transition of power. The United States continues to promote the superiority of “American democracy” in the routine and peaceful change of government and even demands that other countries learn from it. Whenever other countries have problems with the transfer of power, the United States will attribute the problem to the absence of an “American election.” However, conflicts and civil wars have frequently occurred in many countries that adhere to “American democracy.” When these things happen, the United States either feigns ignorance or claims that these countries failed to fully apply “American democracy.” Now, this “American Democracy” that incited protesters to attack Congress and broadcast it live to the entire world proves that elections may not guarantee the peaceful transfer of political power.

“美式民主” 无法保证权力的和平交接。 “美式民主”的神话之一是选举可以避免权力争夺造成的激烈冲突和内战,实现权力的平稳过渡。 美国不断宣扬“美式民主”定期和平更换政府的优越性,要求其他国家学习。 每当别的国家在权力交接上出现问题的时候,美国就会将问题归结为没有“美式选举”。 可是,很多追随“美式民主”的国家经常发生冲突和内战。对于这些现象,美国要么视而不见,要么宣称这些国家学习 “美式民主” 没有到家。现在,这场煽动抗议者冲击国会、向全世界公开播放的“美式民主” 实景秀证明,选举未必能够保证政治权力的和平交接。

“American democracy” does not bring about political stability. The United States claims that elections provide the most stable basis for legitimacy and effectively solves the legitimacy issues of modern countries, thereby achieving long-term stability. This is an utter lie. After the Second World War, especially after the end of the Cold War, many countries imitated “American democracy,” transplanting the American electoral system only to fall into vicious cycles of political instability. In recent years, the domestic political conflict in the United States has intensified. Black Lives Matter protests against racism swept across the United States, high-ranking government officials came in and out of office through revolving doors, and the impeachment of the president was passed by the House of Representatives. Not only failing to bring stability, the 2020 U.S. presidential election rather triggered a new wave of greater political unrest.

“美式民主” 没有带来政治稳定。 美国宣称,选举提供了最稳定的合法性基础,有效解决了现代国家的合法性问题,从而实现了长治久安。 这是彻头彻尾的谎言。 第二次世界大战以后,尤其是冷战结束以后,许多国家模仿“美式民主”,移植美国选举制度,却陷入政治不稳定的恶性循环。 近年来,美国国内政治冲突加剧,“黑人的命也是命”反种族歧视抗议活动席卷全美,政府高官如走马灯一样换来换去,总统弹劾案在众议院表决通过。2020年美国总统选举不但没有带来稳定,反倒引发新一波更大的政治动荡。

“American democracy” does not deliver effective governance. The United States has repeatedly claimed that only routine elections can achieve effective governance because elected officials must be accountable to voters and that the tenure system and decentralized checks and balances can prevent major decision-making errors. There is no factual basis for this claim. Historically, the system of American democracy has failed to prevent the U.S. government from launching major erroneous decisions such as the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. The poor performance of the U.S. government in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic proves once again that “American democracy” cannot bring about effective governance. After the outbreak, some American politicians bore no responsibility for the lives of the people, ignored science, and did not take active measures to deal with the pandemic, allowing it to continue to spread, causing a major failure in pandemic prevention. According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, as of January 10, Beijing time, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States exceeded 22 million, and the total number of COVID-19 deaths reached 371,862. The U.S. population is less than 5% of the world, but its number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 accounts for 24% of the world, and the cumulative deaths account for 19% of the world, far exceeding the global average. It is especially ironic that no U.S. official has been dismissed because of poor pandemic prevention. The failure of pandemic prevention has stripped away the emperor’s new clothes of the American democratic system and exposed the political and governance failures of the United States.

“美式民主” 没有提供治理效能。 美国一再说,只有定期选举才能够实现有效治理,因为民选官员需要对选民负责,而任期制和分权制衡又可以防止出现重大决策错误。 这种说法没有事实根据。 历史上,美国民主制度并未阻止美国政府发动越南战争和伊拉克战争这类重大错误决策。 美国政府面对新冠肺炎疫情的种种拙劣表现,再次证明“美式民主”无法带来有效治理。疫情发生后,美国一些政客不为民众生命负责,无视科学,不采取积极措施应对疫情,任由疫情不断蔓延,造成防疫重大失败。 根据美国约翰斯·霍普金斯大学统计的数据,截至北京时间1月10日,美国新冠肺炎确诊病例总数超过2200万例,新冠肺炎死亡病例总数达到371862例。 美国人口不到世界的5%,但新冠肺炎确诊病例数占世界的24%,累计死亡数占世界的19%,远远超过世界平均水平。 尤其讽刺的是,没有一个美国官员因为防疫不力被撤职。 防疫失败剥开了美国民主制度的皇帝新衣,暴露了美国的政治失能和治理失灵。

“American democracy” cannot guarantee the effective political participation of citizens. The United States proclaims that under “American democracy,” everyone can participate in the political process and express their interests and demands. However, money politics has blocked the means by which the general public can participate in politics. Money in politics runs through all aspects of American elections, legislation, and governance. Elections have become a game of money. “Decision by vote” has become “decision by money.” Ever more money is being spent on U.S. presidential elections. From $700 million dollars in 2004, spending increased to $1 billion in 2008, $2 billion in 2012, and $6.6 billion in 2016. According to a report published by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research organization in the United States, the total cost of the 2020 election was nearly 14 billion, more than twice the spending of the 2016 election, making it the most expensive political election in U.S. history. Spending in the United States on midterm elections has also risen rapidly, from $2.18 billion in 2002 to $5.2 billion in 2018. In the 2018 midterm elections, the average cost of winning a Senate seat was $19.4 million, and the average cost of winning a House seat was more than $1.5 million. The high election costs have greatly increased the threshold for participation and ruled out the possibility of the vast majority of people participating in elections. Only a few people who have the ability to raise large amounts of campaign funds can join the electoral contests of American politics. This undoubtedly creates a breeding ground for the rich and for interest groups to win over candidates through money. Political participation has actually become a privilege of a few wealthy people.

“美式民主” 无法保障公民有效政治参与。 美国宣称,“美式民主” 可以让所有人参与政治过程,表达自己的利益和诉求。 但是,金钱政治堵塞了广大民众政治参与之路。 金钱政治贯穿了美国选举、立法和施政的所有环节。 选举沦为金钱游戏。“票决”变成“钱决”。美国总统选举花费的金钱越来越多,从2004年的7亿美元,增加到2008年的10亿美元、2012年的20亿美元和2016年的66亿美元。根据美国无党派研究机构响应政治中心公布的报告,2020年大选总成本接近140亿美元,是2016年大选支出的两倍多,成为美国历史上最昂贵的政治选举。美国中期选举费用也快速升高,从2002年的21。8亿美元增加到2018年的52亿美元。 在2018年的中期选举中,赢得一个参议院席位的平均成本为1940万美元,赢得一个众议院席位的平均成本超过150万美元。 高额的选举费用大大提高了参选门槛,排除了绝大多数人参加竞选的可能。 只有少数有能力筹集大量竞选资金的人,才能加入美国政治选举角逐。 这无疑为富人和利益集团通过金钱笼络候选人营造了温床。 政治参与实际上成为少数有钱人的特权。

“American democracy” is unable to guarantee the equal political rights of citizens. “American Democracy” has fabricated a myth of “majority rule,” claiming that one-person, one-vote democracy is decision-making by majority, whereby a country is governed according to the will of the majority. However, “American democracy” is neither “the rule of the people” nor “majority rule.” Voter turnout in various elections in the United States has generally been low. Because the United States implements the Electoral College system, a candidate with the support of a majority of voters may not be elected president. Since the beginning of this century, there have been two U.S. presidents elected despite losing the popular vote. In the American political system, the Senate, which shares legislative power with the House of Representatives, is constituted in such a way that every state elects two senators, regardless of their population. In this way, in Rhode Island, only more than 500,000 people can elect a senator, while in California, it takes nearly 20 million people. This is a serious case of “malapportionment.” After all, the American electoral system cannot fully realize the political rights of the American people, and elections are only a tool for a few people to manipulate politics.

“美式民主” 无法保障公民平等的政治权利。 “美式民主” 编造了一个所谓 “多数人统治” 的神话,称一人一票的民主就是多数决,按照多数人的意志治理国家。 可是,“美式民主” 既非 “人民的统治”,也非 “多数人统治”。 美国各项选举投票率普遍不高。 由于美国实行选举人团制度,获得多数选民支持的候选人未必当选总统。 本世纪以来,已经有两届美国总统是由获得普选票较少的获选人当选。 在美国政治体系中同众议院分享立法权的参议院,其组成方式是无论人口多少,每州均选出2名参议员。 这样,在罗得岛州,只要50多万人就可以选出1名参议员,而在加利福尼亚州,却要近2000万人才能选出1名参议员。 这是严重的 “票票不等值”。 说到底,美国选举制度无法充分实现美国民众的政治权利,选举只是少数人操控政治的工具。

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李云龙 (Li Yunlong). "‘American Democracy’ – The End of the Myth [“美式民主” 神话的终结]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in People's Daily [人民日报], January 13, 2021

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