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American Democracy is becoming a Joke

opinionAmerican Democracy is becoming a Joke

Before commenting on the myriad flaws in Indian democracy, western commentators would do better to focus on how American democracy is becoming a joke and a farce.

Large sections of India, both the so-called liberals and conservatives, are still enslaved by the need to seek validation from the West, particularly from western commentators who struggle to camouflage their inherent racism, a strange dislike for India and a deep-rooted animosity towards Pagan Hinduism. One section jumps up screaming “I told you so” when some ignorant and prejudiced scribe from New York Times or Washington Post hectors Indians about discrimination against Muslims. The conservatives then curse American commentators. Then again, when a think-tank scholar or a powerful entrepreneur like Elon Musk says he is truly excited about the unstoppable rise of India, the conservatives cheer and applaud. Of course, the liberals then curse the likes of Elon Musk as greedy capitalists out to plunder India.

The authors genuinely believe Indians need to stop giving too much importance to what Americans of various hues have to say about India. Sure, they are welcome to dissect developments in India and pass verdict. In a globalised world, there is no harm in foreign commentators offering critique and advice. But that’s about it. Read, watch and listen to what they have to say and move on without getting into hysterics of either gratification or mortification. The simple reason for that is: most of these American commentators are ignoring their own backyard and house which is on fire. Before commenting on the myriad flaws in Indian democracy, they would do better to focus on how American democracy is becoming a joke and a farce; a vaudeville act where characters are playing out surreal scenes of both comedy and tragedy. If you think the authors are exaggerating, consider the following hypothetical scenario.

Let’s assume India is governed from Delhi by a “liberal” Prime Minister, who is either willingly or unwillingly a hostage to “wokes” who have decreed that 10-year-old kids have the right to change their “gender” and who have passed laws and regulations that stipulate Hindu children must take “reeducation” classes to realise they are automatic and inherent oppressors because they were born Hindu. Teachers and professors would teach Hindu kids to shed their oppressor identity and embrace a new religion called Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In case you think all this is some terrifying fantasy, you are wrong. All this is happening in America. Just substitute Hindus with whites. Now let us assume West Bengal is governed by a strong conservative Chief Minister who won a mandate on the planks of law & order and a stop to illegal immigration that is causing immense harm.

The Border Security Force and the Army troops at the border of West Bengal, following the diktats of the liberal Prime Minister sitting in Delhi are actually facilitating the entry of illegal migrants and sending them in buses to cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai… Ordinary people in Bengal and elsewhere are outraged by this invasion as it is disrupting entire communities and putting a drain on limited resources. The conservative Chief Minister of West Bengal orders the state’s armed police to go to the border, stop the migrants and start building trip wire fences which will prevent illegal migrants from entering. When the armed police of Bengal start enforcing that, the liberal Prime Minister in Delhi threatens the Bengal Chief Minister with dire consequences. Upset at all this, conservative Chief Ministers from many states in India start sending their armed police in convoys to Bengal to help the Chief Minister. In retaliation, the liberal Prime Minister issues a decree that stops gas exports from Bengal, a critical component of the state economy. It is almost a civil war like situation. Do you visualise this happening in a normal and sane democracy?

But it is happening right now in the United States. Millions and millions of illegal immigrants have poured into America since Joe Biden became President. Border patrol agents have facilitated this invasion and bused the illegal migrants to dozens of cities where hotels have been commandeered at taxpayers’ money to put up the invaders. Recently, when New York ran out of hotel rooms and other places, a large school was shut down and students were asked to attend online classes so that migrants can stay in school rooms. The Texas Governor, George Abbott, who is a conservative Republican, has ordered the Texas Rangers to take control of the border, build fences and completely stop the migrants. The Biden administration has publicly threatened Abbott with severe consequences. Gas exports from Texas have been stopped. Conservative governors from about two dozen states say they are ready to send their armed police to help Texas.

The situation in the United States is so crazy that one doesn’t know whether to laugh or weep. But have you read, watched or heard much about this in India? No, because we are being taught virtues of democracy by bureau chiefs of Washington Post, New York Times and the like. America will have elections to elect a President a few months after the Lok Sabha elections. Who are the leading candidates? The sitting President is a “young” 82-year-old Joe Biden, who often drifts away into vacuous stares during public appearances. His son faces serious charges of corruption, which Biden is alleged to have covered up. His presumptive rival is an obnoxious and almost 80-year-old misogynist Donald Trump, who has been President once. He faces numerous court cases and could be sent to jail for a long time. Can any American analyst, who quickly passes judgement on flaws in Indian democracy, say with any degree of honesty that Biden and Trump represent the best leadership of America?

There is more. What makes a democracy tick? Free and fair elections, independent institutions (particularly the judiciary) and an unbiased media that “holds truth to power”. All three have become jokes in America. Since the notorious 2000 election where George Bush Jr defeated Al Gore thanks to some suspicious ballots in Florida, concerned citizens have repeatedly expressed alarm at the manner in which alleged “voters” are using provisions of postal and mail in ballots without offering any proof of their citizenship. Yet, the circus goes on. Supreme Court judges are now openly appointed by Presidents based on “ideology”. Even the pretence of law, justice and constitutional norms has been dropped from debates in television, print and digital media platforms. Most Americans know what verdict a Supreme Court judge will give even before a case is heard. The media in America has always taken sides. But in the past, it had a commitment to facts and data. That has been tossed out in this era of polarised ideological and identity wars. Sure, America is a great country because of its incredible entrepreneurial energy, initiative, ability to constantly innovate, a 100-year legacy of attracting the best brains from across the world, civic nationalism (which is fraying now) and a commitment to hard work. But despite that, its democracy is rotting from within.

That doesn’t mean Indians need to gloat. Indian democracy too has many deep flaws that need to be addressed. But the next time a Washington Post or New York Times expert lectures Indians, ask her to take a hike on the Texas border.

Yashwant Deshmukh is Founder & Editor in Chief of CVoter Foundation and Sutanu Guru is Executive Director.

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