“Walk like a Democracy,” says China

Talking ‘democracy’ is not doing democracy

The biggest hit on Western style democracy is that it is fake democracy. Yes, its elections make it look democratic, and its politicians endlessly repeat “democracy,” but it doesn’t walk like democracy.

It never produces democratic outcomes. Never:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” they write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

If we compare the dimensions of democracy in China and the USA–formal, elective, popular, procedural, operational and substantive–we find that the USA fails to score at all, while China scores well in all.

1. Formally, the US Constitution never mentions ‘democracy’ (the Founders hated it) and China’s Constitution mentions it 32 times.

2. Electively, China has bigger, more transparent elections than the US. China’s are supervised and certified by The Carter Center, which also runs China’s election website.

3. Popularly, China has a twenty percent higher voter participation than the USA (62% to 52%), suggesting that more Chinese voters think their vote counts.

4. Procedurally, China uses a public, democratic process to appoint senior officials and approve all legislation. (American presidential candidates are chosen by wealthy backers and appointed by an unelected group of people called the Electoral College which nobody understands).

5. Operationally, American presidents operate like like medieval monarchs. They hire and fire all senior officials and frequently order citizens kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned and assassinated without consulting anyone. They can secretly ban 50,000 people from flying on airlines without explanation and take the country to war at any time, for any reason. No Chinese leader–including Mao–could do any of those things. They have to vote on everything, democratically.

6. Substantively, China’s government policies produce democratic outcomes. Ninety-six percent of Chinese voters approve the government’s policies and eighty-three percent say China is being run for their benefit rather than for the benefit of a special group (only thirty-eight percent of Americans think this of their country).

Whether a country is a democracy or not depends on whether its people are really the masters of the country. If people wake up to vote, but then go back to sleep , if they are given a song and dance during campaigning but have no say after the election, or if they are favored during canvassing but are left out in the cold after the election, such a democracy is not a true democracy. It is in itself undemocratic to use a single yardstick to measure the rich and varied political systems and examine the diverse political civilizations of humanity from a monotonous perspective. The system of people’s congresses is an important institutional vehicle for realizing whole-process people’s democracy in China”. Xi Jinping, Oct. 13, 2021.

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