The Demise of Democracy in the USA

In my blog, What’s it all about Mr. Prime Minister, picked up today by the Huffington Post you will find the following paragraph:

Nor are the other leading democratic nations well advanced on this journey. Yes, they have installed freedom, and most have made a commitment to equality, but how many have fully embraced accountability and fairness? How many can be considered truly open and transparent, and how many have built a society based on trust. The answer is, not many! So why are these questions not being discussed by our world leaders in Davos? The answer is simple — the majority of our political and finance leaders cannot get their minds off wealth and money. They are mesmerized by the values of power, control and status. At Davos, the self-interest of the elites consistently trumps the common good of humanity.

This conclusion  aligns with the latest research paper from Princeton University (click here). This paper concludes:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.   

Furthermore, the researchers state:
A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policy-making is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn’t surprised by the survey’s results:
American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media),” he writes. The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious ‘electoral’ ‘democratic’ countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now.

This comes as no surprise to us at the Barrett Values Centre. When we asked a statistically valid sample of Americans in 2009 and 2011 to pick ten values/behaviours that represent how they believe their nation operates, this is what they said :

Corruption, bureaucracy, blame, crime/violence, uncertainty about the future, wasted resources, materialistic, unemployment, conflict/aggression.

 The level of cultural entropy (the degree of dysfunction at a cultural level) in the USA increased from 52% in 2009 to 56% in 2011. A comparison of the USA National Values Assessment in 2009 and 2011 can be found by clicking here.

In Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations: The impact of the evolution of human consciousness on world affairs, written in 2011, I commented on these results:

The greatest challenge to the evolution of democracy is the amount of power/influence exercised by the new elites—the rich and those elected to power. Ever since the agricultural period and the age of tribes, the elites have attempted to dominate/control the masses, and even though in our modern day democracies we have given every man and woman the right to vote, the elites (status elites and the wealthy) still have a disproportionate influence over the way in which society is run.

Even in the US and the UK, the so-called bastions of democracy, the elites have a significant and disproportionate say in the policies that governments adopt and the laws they bring into effect. This is one of the main reasons why I suspect that these two nations are evaluated as numbers 17 and 19 in Economic Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) democracy index. This is also why I believe the EIU dropped Italy (29) and France (31) from being full democracies to flawed democracies after their 2010 survey.

In the US, lobbyists representing business elites have become very adept at manipulating the process of governance at the highest levels. They exercise significant control over the way senators and members of congress vote. Failure to follow the lobbyists’ “advice” can result in cuts in funding for their electoral campaigns and expense paid junkets to foreign lands and American resorts.

This brings me back to my blog, What’s it all about Mr. Prime Minister. When are our leaders going to realize that we cannot have democracy without a commitment to freedom, equality, fairness, accountability, openness, transparency and trust. It all about values, Mr President.