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The United States And The State Of Democracy

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, October 25

As the midterm elections in the United States draw near, three key factors emerge as the defining traits of the American political arena today. First, the political debate in the U.S. today does not revolve around policy. If you ask a Democrat about their economic worldview, he or she will likely complain about how Republicans ruined the economy. Similarly, if you ask Republicans about their economic views, they will denounce Democrats for always finding a reason to complain. In the midst of this polarization, nobody talks about a concrete political agenda anymore. Second, the American political arena today lacks any credible opposition to Trump. The Democratic Party has not mustered the courage it takes to stand up to Trump and provide a viable alternative to his rule. This brings me to the third point: Unity within the Democratic Party has reached an all-time low. Indeed, the upcoming elections are less about who will stand up to Trump and more about who will lead the Democratic Party. Three main strands have emerged within its ranks. The first are radical leftists such as Bernie Sanders who seeks to imitate Trump-like politics with a socialist spin. The second are members of the party’s old guard, people like Hillary Clinton and her generation. The third are the Obama loyalists who seek to revive their predecessor’s charisma and win over the American public. No matter how we look at it, these developments spell grave trouble for American democracy. The levels of division and hatred we are witnessing in the United States today is simply unprecedented. Heated arguments that lack any semblance of respect or courtesy have become the norm. For a country that prides itself on its long-standing democratic traditions, the U.S. seems today much more like a battleground in which an exclusive group of elites fight for ultimate power. –Amir Taheri