April 13, 2024

Opinion: Democracies, look at this country, USA |  Comments |  DW

Opinion: Democracies, look at this country, USA | Comments | DW

On the surface, it looks nothing more than a classic bargaining chip for the power the world thinks it knows from the US, at least thanks to several Netflix series. In this bipartisan country, it is bad to use all means to slow down the performance of the other side; To prevent the ruling party’s political success in order to regain a majority in the midterm elections in at least one, if not two, chambers. A tactic used by Democratic politicians in the past. It should not be forgotten.

However, what is currently happening in the United States is much more fundamental and existential. Four years into Trump’s rule and the Republican Party still stuck in his lie, nothing less than the political system is at stake. This may seem like an exaggeration, but it isn’t.

Banning blacks from voting

Democracy is characterized by the fact that all citizens can vote freely and secretly – and have the same rights, regardless of origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, or income. It is precisely this right that is currently being undermined. The Republican governments involved have already changed electoral legislation in 14 US states. There are several more on the way there. With the aim of reducing the influence of blacks and other minorities on the outcome of the elections and ensuring that the Republican Party retains power. In a country where the white majority will be in the past in a few years, the party is trying to secure its future in this way.

In turn, electoral districts are designed differently, mandatory identification is created, old signatures are declared valid, and postal voting is abolished or made more difficult. Texas even goes so far as to no longer be able to vote on Sunday mornings. This is the classic election time for many blacks who combine their democratic citizenship with going to church.

But more dangerous are the legislative reforms, which make it easier for the heads of the Electoral Commission to simply declare the election invalid. To put it in perspective: the vast majority of Republicans to this day claim, without any evidence and against all recounts, that Donald Trump actually won the presidential election last November.

What is at stake

This is a very bleak prospect with consequences that are difficult to anticipate. Not only for the upcoming midterm elections at the end of 2022, but also for the presidential elections in 2024. Because in the end, the two houses, the Senate and the Congress, have to agree to elect the so-called college (the assembly of electors), so that the president-elect can actually take office.

January 6, when Donald Trump supporters wanted to stop this process by storming the Capitol, they showed what was possible. Since then, democratic forces within the United States have stunned and seen what was at stake.

All democracies must consider carefully

Democracies around the world should closely monitor the situation in the United States and draw lessons from it:

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1. There is no such thing as a little anti-democracy. Whoever enters into coalitions with anti-democratic people and parties who are out of power, has lost his accounts. Republicans are experiencing that they can no longer capture the populist spirit of Donald Trump.

2. Nobody can find an answer to how to break self-contained information bubbles on social media. The United States provides startling evidence of how quickly facts can be replaced by lies if they support one’s view of the world.

3. The credibility of politicians starts with respect for the electorate. Donald Trump was also made possible by the arrogance of the liberal political elite, who simply ignored the concerns of many Americans.

4. Democracies can only survive with independent, critical media capable of dialogue and capable of reaching a broad audience.

5. Most important of all is the training of youth: acquisition of media skills and encouragement of a desire for self-reflection. It all starts in schools. But this is exactly where it all stops.