It’s official: America is no longer a “shining city upon a hill.”
Data released Thursday from Pew Research shows that our allies are beyond delighted that the Trump presidency has ended. Confidence in U.S. leadership has soared. Our friends are breathing a sigh of relief.
But buried in that story about the United States’ post-Trump redemption is some seriously bad news: U.S. allies see our democracy as a shattered, washed-up has-been. We used to provide a democratic model for the world, but no longer. The chaos, dysfunction and insanity of the past several years have taken a predictable toll.
The numbers are depressing. Just 14 percent of Germans see American democracy as a desirable model for other countries, while 54 percent say that it “used to be a good example, but has not been in recent years.” Public opinion in France, Britain, South Korea, Japan and Australia is similarly bleak. In New Zealand, fewer than 1 in 10 citizens sees American democracy as a desirable model.
It turns out the rest of the democratic world wasn’t particularly impressed by the United States’ former authoritarian president, who spread conspiracy theories, tweeted narcissistic absurdities while 400,000 people died of covid-19, and incited a deadly insurrection. Go figure.
But these numbers coming out of our allies aren’t just depressing bits of polling trivia. They have real-world consequences. And they highlight a disturbing, inescapable dilemma that the Biden administration must confront: Until the United States fixes its broken democracy at home, it will be unable to effectively fight authoritarianism abroad.
Put bluntly: The United States’ authoritarian slide isn’t just a domestic policy issue. It’s a foreign policy disaster, too. [Continue reading…]