The Failure of the American Model of Democracy



Democracy is a political system that creates institutions and allows citizens to express their views by selecting their executive and representatives in the legislature.

Thus, the people participate in the political decision-making process by way of their representatives. It differs from autocracy, which takes away individual freedom and monopolizes decision-making power.

That is the general definition of democracy, but we find that in reality, many politicians have difficulty fulfilling their promises, so the chasm between the government and its citizens widens. Because they serve only a small group of people, citizens feel that their politicians have failed them.

In his book “The Future,” Al Gore says that “politicians are weak, professionally incompetent, and serve the interests of corporations.”

Companies often use the political system to protect their interests, either by funding political campaigns or through lobbying organizations with huge budgets. As such, the corporate invasion of politics has become a capitalist phenomenon that promotes greed-fueled policies and enormous cartels.

Populist, anti-liberal movements have taken advantage of democracy and are on the rise, which could lead to the collapse of rule of law.

What is worrying is that countries with heralded democracies have been shaken by populist forces that target minorities through discriminatory practices and reject the fundamental principles of liberal democracy; for example, separation of powers and guaranteeing rights for all people. Having had populist movements and large corporations assume control over its government branches and rob it of its virtues, the US is witnessing a multitude of scenes that run contrary to the spirit of democracy, despite its self-proclaimed role as the “the world’s pioneer of democracy.”

George Nader claims that democracy in America has weakened and broken down. It is a democracy controlled by companies, who in turn control all aspects of political life.

Time Magazine published an article with the title “The Coronavirus Crisis in the U.S. Is a Failure of Democracy,” which discussed the deep-seated reasons for the American government and Congress’s failure to protect its people and fight the pandemic.

Failure to control the pandemic does not go back to the failure of the American public health system alone, but to the failure of their system of democracy. The article also emphasized that since a small number of people control the American government, it in turn serves only a small number of people. That is why the American people are currently suffering numerous hardships.

The outgoing president, Donald Trump, has made many claims of “fraud” in the presidential election, deeply dividing the American people and creating a disaster for democracy in America.

As a result of his doubt about the election, the general atmosphere of worry and tension is escalating, despite challenger Joe Biden’s victory. Trump accused the Democrats of “trying to steal the election,” and in return, Biden threatened to resort to legal action if Trump further attempts to obstruct a smooth transition of power.

This is the American democracy that various administrations have tried to propagate in the Middle East. It began with the occupation of Iraq under the pretense of spreading democracy. They nominated sectarian, religious and nationalist parties to lead political operations. As the years passed, they used elections and unjust laws to ensure that they remained in power. They also formed a non-independent commission for elections that consisted of party members, not to mention that they forged the will of the electorate in most areas to prevent qualified, patriotic candidates from reaching Parliament. All of this to protect the interests of the ruling groups and parties that plundered the country’s money and property, ruined the country’s manufacturing and agriculture and stopped providing general services to most of Iraq.

This, then, is the American model of democracy that they spoke so highly of and tried to implement throughout the Arab world in order to divide the divided. This comes in spite of the fact that all American presidents since 2003 have said that they would make Iraq’s experience with democracy unique in the Arab world and in the Middle East.

Facts have proven that American democracy is doomed to fail, because it is a false democracy that has led to division of society. Likewise, their “democracy” experiment in Iraq will fail, because it is built upon feeble, divisive foundations, and does not respond to the demands of the Iraqi people.

We reject the American model of democracy on account of its superficial and unjust nature. However, we are still in need of a democracy built upon a just foundation, so that everyone, without exception, will be an indispensable part of the political decision-making process.

Our need for a just democracy is rooted in our civilizational and ontological needs, and it is considered one of the most important solutions to our societal problems. Thus, it is not merely a suggestion that we can choose to take or leave, but a complete system of life.

We should not only do away with American democracy completely and throw away the ballot boxes, but implement policies that organize civilian society and offer everyone equal opportunity while adhering to the principles of justice and fairness. We want a real democracy based on equality, through a complete social system that enriches all classes and sects and nationalities, not a superficial democracy.

A democracy without social justice is unimaginable, for one cannot exist without the other.

In this sense, we must correct our current conception of democracy, because it has become a burden on the citizen. We must connect it to the people’s desire for fair distribution of wealth. This is the only way for us to achieve a people’s democracy far removed from the unstable American model, whose failure is inevitable.

Adham Ibrahim

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