Deep-seated divisions in US contradict democratic values

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By Wang Wenwen Source: Global Times

A US President Donald Trump supporter (left) clashes with a demonstrator at Black Lives Matter plaza across from the White House on election day in Washington, DC on November 3, 2020. Photo: AFP

Violence, guns. These are often fixtures of elections in underdeveloped or developing countries. What is happeningduring the US election is something that we could have never imaged in this “Beacon of Freedom.”

The US is considered a model of democracy, and one characteristic of democracy is: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Democracy is exercised in a civilized and graceful manner. The one who loses in elections is supposed to stay cool, accept the result, and call for bridging differences to move the country forward. But it seems that this does not exist in the US nowadays.

In the past four years, we have witnessed how a divided US becomes even more divided. Two years ago when I went to the US to cover the mid-term elections, I clearly felt partisan division, but the social atmosphere was restrained and controllable. But this year’s general election is totally different.

Ahead of the elections, the Americans went panic-buying, with many industries experiencing product delays and shortages. There has been a surge of new gun owners, looking to arm themselves in the event of a turbulent election aftermath. Gun sales in the US have hit a record this year, with 1.7 million in October. Meanwhile, businesses in major cities across the US have boarded up windows and doors for fear of election unrest.

Crowds violently clashed outside the White House on election night as thousands of protesters gathered. Over 3,000 National Guard troops have been activated in various states for fear of violence. It remains to be seen how the “civil war” evolves as a result of the election.

The US stands on the high political and moral ground among developed Western countries. In an election of such a country as the US, what was uncertain in the past was the result of the election, while the election process would always remain certain. Disputes, chaos and the refusal of election results by certain candidates were supposed to take place in developing countries where political conditions were not stable, and definitely not in a country like the US.

But things have changed – all these have occurred in the US, and the US is not synonymous to a stable, civilized and consensus-based society anymore.

The US has been keen on dividing other societies in countries it sees as rivals. It is an old hand in launching “color revolutions” which have spread from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. Ironically, US society has to face such a division in itself.

The division in the US is triggered by the split in values and conflicts of ideals. No matter whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump wins, both are consuming the Americans’ trust toward elections and bringing political confrontation and social division to a higher level. A Gallup survey in February showed that 59 percent of Americans interviewed said they are not confident in the honesty of elections in their country. It also noted that a majority of Americans have consistently lacked confidence in the honesty of elections every year since 2012.

The partisan confrontation is the epitome of deep-seated divisions in US society. There is no end in sight to the social contradictions. More importantly, the US leadership has no will to solve such woes. And what comes up with the distrust is the questioning of the much-touted slogans of “democracy” and “freedom.”

This is costing the US’ international reputation as well. The presidential election has attracted world attention, but what everybody is interested in much more is what kind of farce the world’s No.1 would make. As Paul Kelly, editor-at-large on The Australian, wrote, “The collapse of the American code of traditional virtue along with the collapse of institutional authority that once propagated that code risks generating a society that cannot deliver for the common good.”

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