Demonstrations and voting show the best in US democracy, while riots show the worst. Other nations are watching…and making decisions about what kind of governments they want. Democracy is declining worldwide, and America’s example looms large. Our future will be poorer, sicker, dirtier, and bloodier as a result.
By Mark D. Harris
The United States is sailing through troubled waters in 2020, and the forecast predicts more stormy weather. COVID-19 has killed many Americans, frightened many more, and challenged everyone. The tragedy surrounding George Floyd’s death appears to be a crime, and the investigation continues. The peaceful demonstrations spurred by his death encourage an important conversation on police practices and institutional racial discrimination. Meanwhile, many Americans voted in primary elections to choose our political leaders in 2020. Voting, peaceful demonstrations, and dialogue reveal democracy at its best.
The riots, on the other hand, encourage anarchy, destruction, and intractable hatred. Brigands claiming to be fighting fascism break windows and doors, looting and burning homes and businesses in a 2020 version of Kristallnacht that would make Hitler’s Sturmabteilung (SA) smile. The city of Seattle, once known as the Emerald City for its natural grandeur, has been torn asunder by rebels in the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), and police vehicles have been burned. Throughout the nation, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other public safety professionals have been targeted, and some killed in cold blood. Such behavior undermines democracy as a political idea and a governmental system.
Independent organizations, such as Freedom House, who evaluate democracy around the world have noted democracy to be in decline since the early 2000s. Fewer nations are adopting a democratic form of government and more nations are moving away from democracy. Such has been the situation for at least fourteen years. While the US chastises China for breaking its promises to Hong Kong and its heavy-handed suppression of protests, the Chinese mock the US for our own riots. Iran, which handles protestors with live ammunition, does the same. China, a Communist totalitarian state, promotes its political system as an alternative to democracy. Iran, an Islamic totalitarian state, promotes its political system as well. Turkish strongman Reycip Erdogan, leader of another Islamist nation, lambasted America’s “inhuman mentality” as a “racist and fascist” state. Other democracies from Australia to the United Kingdom are racked with protests, sometimes violent, and tyrants rejoice. Smaller nations, struggling with their own troubles as fledging democracies, look at the travails of the world’s established democracies and ask if there is a better way. Many believe that there is.
The world is more than just the United States, and its people are more than just Americans. But the US has an outsized influence. Statements from ordinary Americans appear in foreign media when such statements are useful to promote foreign nation’s agendas. Democracies have been shown throughout history to rarely go to war against each other, and to provide the best economic outcomes for their people. In our imperfect world with its imperfect people, democracy is the best form of government that anyone has ever devised.
Perhaps it would be in the best interest of all Americans to show democracy at its best, and spread government of the people, by the people, and for the people, throughout the world.
 Ishaan Tharoor. Democracy is in decline around the world — and Trump is part of the problem, last modified 5 Mar 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/05/democracy-is-decline-around-world-trump-is-part-problem/.
 Sarah Repucci. A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy, accessed 13 June 2020, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2020/leaderless-struggle-democracy.
 Sam Dorman. China, Iran mock US amid ongoing riots: ‘I can’t breathe’, last modified 30 May 2020, https://www.foxnews.com/world/china-mocks-us-cant-breathe.
 Seth J. Frantzman. Iran and Turkey seek to support riots in the US, last modified 31 May 2020, https://www.jpost.com/international/iran-and-turkey-seek-to-support-riots-in-the-us-629750.
 Sophie Tanno. How the tweets of a New Mexico mom pondering whether coronavirus was in America months before it is claimed have been hijacked by China in its effort to shift blame for the pandemic, last modified 26 Mar 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8155069/How-tweets-New-Mexico-mom-hijacked-China.html.