Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The Saker
On September 2nd, Pew Research — one of America’s most respected polling organizations — issued findings from their survey of 11,001 U.S. adults between July 27 and Aug. 2, 2020, regarding three important questions that are indicative of whether or not Americans believe the U.S. Government to be a democracy, or instead a dictatorship. These are those three findings:
“Elected officials face serious consequences for misconduct.” 27% Yes. (73% No.)
“Government is open and transparent.” 30% Yes. (70% No.)
“Campaign contributions do not lead to greater political influence.” 26% Yes. (74% No.)
The last-listed of those three indicates that three-quarters of the American public believe exactly the same as the existing political-science empirical studies clearly have documented to be actually the case: that America is ruled by only its wealthiest and best-connected people — that it’s an aristocracy, a one-dollar-one vote nation, instead of a one-person-one-vote nation — it’s not a democracy at all. So: that is now established as a fact in political science; it’s not merely an opinion by three quarters of the U.S. public.
However, another relevant question produced an extreme disparity between the opinions of Republicans (America’s conservatives) versus Democrats (America’s liberals) regarding whether America is a democracy, and here is that fourth question and its answers:
“Everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.” Republicans 76% Yes. Democrats 28% Yes.
Those are diametrically opposite opinions, by the adherents to the two political Parties.
So, on that one question, America’s conservatives do consider America to be a democracy, regarding at least the factor of whether or not all Americans have equal opportunity. This question is relevant to democracy because if everyone has equal opportunity, then there is equality on at least that single matter of equality — equality of opportunity — which cannot even possibly exist in a dictatorship, because a dictatorship has dictators, who, obviously (by definition), possess enormously more opportunity than do the rest of the population. So, whereas Republicans think that America is a democracy on at least that factor (equal opportunity), Democrats equally strongly believe that it’s not.
There was also one other question on which a strong contrast existed between Republicans and Democrats, though not diametrically opposite views, and here is that fifth question, and its answers:
“The fundamental design and structure of American government need significant changes.” Republicans 50% Yes. Democrats 79% Yes.
How should these opinion-differences, by Party (ideology), be interpreted?
Whereas Democrats overwhelmingly believe that America is a dictatorship, Republicans overwhelmingly believe that it is an equal-opportunity dictatorship; and half of Republicans believe (perhaps because they believe America provides equal opportunity) that (regardless of whether or not America is a dictatorship) “The fundamental design and structure of American government don’t need significant changes.” How can one make sense of that viewpoint? Perhaps Republicans believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy and/or incompetent, and that the rich deserve to be rich because they’re hard-working and brilliant, and perhaps Democrats are more inclined to attribute the unequal outcomes (rich versus poor) to “the fundamental design and structure of the American government.” The views of Democrats on these matters are entirely consistent with the view that America is a dictatorship, but the views of Republicans are not.
Republicans overwhelmingly believe that America is an equal-opportunity society, and half of Republicans believe that the fundamental design and structure of the American government don’t need any significant changes. Both of those viewpoints are accepting America as it is, which means that they are blaming the poor — instead of blaming “the fundamental design and structure of American government” (such as that America is being ruled by the rich) — for the poverty of the poor. Consequently, at least half of Republicans (the ones who don’t believe that America needs structural changes) believe in the rightfulness of an aristocracy — they believe that the wealthiest should rule, the public should not. Those Republicans want to be ruled by the rich, instead of ruled by the majority of the public. They are, at the very least, ambivalent about (if not outright hostile toward) democracy.
One of the ways that Republicans might get around this problem in their viewpoint is by assuming that there is no Deep State, no unelected and totally unaccountable power behind the elected rulers, other than some amorphous governmental bureaucracy, career civil-service professionals, nothing which is outside and above that, such as the aristocracy of billionaires who select which politicians’ careers to fund, and which ones not to fund. According to this conservative viewpoint, all the deficiencies in the government come from the career bureaucracy, none come from the corruption that allows the richest to buy the winning politicians and the major newsmedia, and the think tanks, etcetera. In those people’s imaginings, the controlling power is inside the government, not outside, and above, it.
There is a good ten-minute Republican-Party propaganda video which displays that viewpoint, by mocking the hypocrisy of a leading congressional Democrat, regarding democracy. This video excludes any raising of the crucial question: “Whose interests (other than the politician’s own) is that politician actually serving?” By not asking that question, the ignoring of logical inconsistencies within one’s own political opinions is not only easy to do, but it is quite natural to do. Apparently, conservatives, far more than liberals, think this way: they don’t examine to find out whom the beneficiaries of the politician’s decisions are. It’s a way that accepts corruption. It doesn’t even wonder how corruption works. It doesn’t seek to understand.
That’s the problem with the conservative side. The problem with the liberal side is its hypocrisy, which that video is mocking. Maybe the reason for the hypocrisy of liberals is that they sort-of are opposed to corruption, whereas conservatives are entirely devoted to the free market, which allows corruption, since to do otherwise is to support policies against corruption, which policies would prohibit certain types of mutually voluntary agreements, and would specifically penalize agreements that are corrupt. Thus, Republicans oppose government regulations, whereas Democrats support government regulations.
By accepting corruption (as conservatives do, since they are devoted to the free market), a person accepts one-dollar-one-vote government, and rejects one-person-one-vote government — that individual accepts a dictatorship by wealth, and rejects a democracy by the people: by the nation’s residents. So: this difference in support for the aristocracy — the holders of the vast majority of the nation’s wealth — might explain the differences between Republicans and Democrats.
Here are previous studies that have been done on whether America is a democracy or instead a dictatorship. First is an international comparison that enables these recent findings by Pew to be viewed in an international comparative context:
Here are the findings, and the rankings:
% saying yes to ‘My country is democratic’
(ranks shown are out of the 53 countries that were surveyed):
78% Taiwan #1
77% Denmark #2
75% Switzerland #3
75% S. Korea #4
73% China #5
73% Austria #6
71% Vietnam #7
71% India #8
71% Norway #9
69% Argentina #10
69% Sweden #11
67% Germany #12
66% Netherlands #13
65% Philippines #14
65% Portugal #15
64% Canada #16
63% Singapore #17
61% Malaysia #18
61% Greece #19
60% Ireland #20
59% Israel #21
57% Indonesia #22
56% Spain #23
56% Australia #24
56% UK #25
56% Turkey #26
55% Belgium #27
55% Peru #28
54% South Africa #29
54% Romania #30
54% Italy #31
53% Saudi Arabia #32
53% Pakistan #33
52% France #34
52% Mexico #35
51% Brazil #36
49% Kenya #37
48% U.S. #38
46% Japan #39
46% Colombia #40
45% Thailand #41
45% Algeria #42
43% Nigeria #43
42% Chile #44
41% Egypt #45
40% Morocco #46
40% Ukraine #47
39% Russia #48
38% Poland #49
37% Hong Kong #50
36% Hungary #51
28% Iran #52
24% Venezuela #53
(NATO did not publicize those rankings, nor even the scores.)
Perhaps the most reliable statistical score which tends to indicate the extent to which a given country is a dictatorship is its imprisonment-rate: the percentage of its residents who are in prison. Right now, the U.S. has the world’s highest percentage of its residents who are imprisoned. This indicates either that it has the worst people or that it has the worst laws, or both, but it also provides overwhelming solid empirical evidence that “The fundamental design and structure of American government need significant changes.” Consequently, the 79% of Democrats, and the 50% of Republicans, who agree with that proposition are certainly correct, because the world-record-high imprisonment-rate proves it. It’s not consistent with the opinion that “The fundamental design and structure of American government don’t need significant changes.”
Furthermore: since America’s prisoners are overwhelmingly the nation’s least wealthy, and since America’s wealthiest are virtually (if not totally) impossible to imprison regardless of how many people they might have defrauded — or else even murdered by promoting and selling toxic and dangerous products, sometimes even more toxic than such things as toxic collateralized mortgage obligations — these facts are further evidence that “The fundamental design and structure of American government need significant changes” is true, and that “Everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed” is false. So, a consistent picture is emerging, which is consistent with the political-science findings that the U.S. is, in fact, a dictatorship (by its wealthiest).
However, this does not necessarily mean that any single one of those indicators is reliable, on its own, as an indicator of whether or not the given nation is a dictatorship. Everything should be viewed within its broader context. (I previously did this — provided a much broader context — under the headline “Which Is the Most Totalitarian Country?”)
One question that deepens this context is whether or not there has been some stability in America’s being at the top of the imprisonment heap. The earliest web-archived version of comparative international imprisonment-rates was this one on 20 March 2009, and the nation which, at that time, was shown to have the highest imprisonment-rate was the United States. So, from at least that time to this time, America has had the world’s highest imprisonment-rate. If this isn’t a dictatorship, then what is? But, of course, the political-science empirical studies already show that the U.S. is a dictatorship. So, can can there even be a debate about it?
This means that any ‘news’ report that refers to America as being a “democracy” is demonstrably and clearly false. (Maybe, in some respects, America is formally a democracy; but, substantively, it certainly isn’t an actual democracy.)
Yet another indicator that the U.S. is a dictatorship is that it now is spending approximately half of the entire world’s military expenditures. So: it’s not only the most police-state, it is the most militarized nation — not necessarily in terms of having the world’s highest numbers of soldiers, but definitely in terms of having, by an overwhelming margin, the world’s highest military expenditures (especially on weapons). So: it is an international dictatorship.
On 17 June 2014, I headlined “Why Does NATO Still Exist?” and was (so far as I have been able to find) the first person publicly to refer to the “U.S. Regime” (other than as being part of an adjective in the many online references to “U.S. regime change” operations). In that article, I used the phrase “U.S. regime”, for the first time, directly as a noun, in the phrase, “The U.S. regime can say …”. More than five years later, on 10 November 2019, I headlined “Why does no other writer refer to ‘the U.S. regime’?” Instead, ‘news’ reports still (now six years later) are referring to such fantasies as “American democracy” and “the U.S. and other democracies.” However, recent evidence indicates that a majority of the American public have figured this hoax out for themselves, no thanks to America’s (or the rest of the world’s) ‘news’ media. People are learning, perhaps from their own personal experiences. Anyway, that’s what the U.S. Government is: it is the U.S. regime (or “the American regime”). That is today’s reality.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.