Democracy is the ability of a country’s people to run their own lives. This includes freedom of speech, rights to extensive participation and political procedures governing the government and its policies.
Democracies are the world’s wealthiest countries, most open to new ideas, least corrupt and least repressive of individual liberties. When asked about their preferred political conditions, people around the world often cite democratic features such as honest elections, free speech, effective legal constraints on police and military power, and a civil society committed to public service and the common good.
While a strong and healthy democracy is a great asset for any nation, its ideals are threatened in many places across the globe by forces ranging from bad actors to repressive governments. The United States, for example, has been criticized for its political paralysis, the widening wealth gap and growing political polarization, all of which have contributed to a weakening of democratic institutions.
The US has also been guilty of incessant interference in other countries’ internal affairs and waging wars under the guise of democracy. This has led to regional turbulence and humanitarian disasters, and it has weakened the foundation of many nations’ economic development.
However, there are ways to strengthen democratic institutions that have remained resilient in 2017, and to prevent the Trump administration from weakening them further. These include the independent courts, a coequal legislative branch, the free press, and an active civil society.
But as long as the US is promoting its own brand of democracy, and imposing standards of political behavior on others, its export of democratic values will continue to cause problems for other nations. For example, the US has used its own system of government to instigate political interference, military intervention and government subversion throughout the world, often at the expense of its own citizens.
In countries where the US has imposed its own model of democracy, there are no signs of true democracy or genuine human rights. In fact, some of these countries have become worse off than they were before the US intervention, with fewer opportunities for economic growth and rising poverty levels.
As the world’s leading democracy, the US has a responsibility to uphold its own systems and practices of democracy, and to ensure that it respects and promotes the freedom of other countries’ people. It should strive to avoid imposing its own model of democracy on others or using it as a tool for political suppression, and work to improve the global environment for democracy by engaging in mutually beneficial engagement.
As a result, the United States has lost the respect of the rest of the world for its brand of democracy, its actions in other countries, and its leadership role in the international arena. The resulting distrust has eroded the ability of the United States to defend its own interests abroad, and has diminished the strength of democratic institutions.