by Terrance Hunsley
Lately I’ve been worrying about the future of the democratic nation state. (Yeah I know, I have a lot of time on my hands.)
I worry if countries have passed too much power to global corporations, which now seem to be in control of all information about us, and which can spy on our activities and follow us anywhere on the globe. I worry that they can decide to pay next to no taxes, in a tax haven. That they basically buy politicians through campaign contributions. That they capture the regulatory bodies that are supposed to control them, through control of production science and supply information, and because senior government officials hope for cushy jobs with them in the future. And for a lot of reasons, it seems that democratic countries can’t get their acts together to act decisively on any major global issue. The failure of the OECD in their attempt to tackle global corporate tax avoidance is a recent example.
…the results of the US elections in 2018 and 2020 show at least that democratic participation is important to people and can be mobilized. Brookings Fellow William Galston provides an interesting commentary…
The U.S. Elections Project has estimated that (2020 Election) votes will reach a total of 158.8 million, compared to 136.7 million four years ago. …After these votes are all finally tallied, Joe Biden will likely enjoy a popular vote advantage of at least 6 million—and a winning margin of 4 percentage points or more. … it came with the highest turnout as a share of the population eligible to vote in more than a century.
And about the 2016 midterm election…
Compared to the previous midterm in 2014, Democrats raised their vote from 35.6 million to 60.6 million, a stunning gain of 25 million. By contrast, Republicans were able to increase their total by … 10 million votes. (Brookings.edu)
Galston suggests that the election went to Biden with help from non-college-educated whites and seniors. Not by a big wave of votes by blacks and latinos and women as predicted by democrats – but by those who gave Trump the win in 2016. His voters, many of whom probably support his policies, turned against him. Most likely because of the personality qualities he displayed.
Trump promised to make America great by moving away from globalization and, ostensibly, restoring the nation’s power. He pulled away from international agencies which he felt were diluting American influence. He held a mistaken view that he could better the US economy by beggar-thy-neighbour policies with other trading nations. The deep integration of the global economy showed that to be shortsighted. On the environment he felt that the US could simply go it alone and the world be damned.
In any case, for a lot of good reasons, US electors got rid of him by turning out to vote. It doesn’t solve the deep political divide that is slicing through American society. Americans are not enraptured with Democrats.
But it does show that citizens will get involved if they really want to oust a leader. They didn’t like Trump and they did something about it.
So democracy, in all its imperfection, is still strong.