Index > KC's Column
Friday, November 19, 2021
U.S. Democratic Politics in Crisis
Chan Kung

China now appears to be a major factor that shapes the world, as indicated in the article The Divided World in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.

Most of those touted as “China experts” in the U.S. only understand China superficially, except for a few like Miles Yu, former principal China policy and planning adviser to United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, one whom China itself pays attention to.

Yu has recently stated that the challenges that China brings to the world are not only economic and military, but also morality. As an official appointed during the time of Donald Trump, his speech has always been confrontational, and the goal is for the United States to “win”. That said, Yu's view only represents the positions and attitudes of certain fractions in the U.S., which is also a view of the past that is completely different from that of the U.S. officials today. There is another view in the U.S., like that of secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan in the Biden administration who seek to co-exist with China. It appears that the latter are more willing to negotiate with China so that the U.S. would not “lose” or "not losing too badly".

It appears that there are two completely different positions in the U.S.’ policy voices, and this has caused the current international relations to fall into an unprecedented crisis. People simply cannot be certain that whether the various "policies" of the United States from the mouths of Biden, Blinken, and Sullivan are actual American policies under normal circumstances, or if they would be changed by the Democratic Party in the future based on the shifts in the U.S. election.

In international relations, policy views that usually have lasting influence are valuable and can cause extensive international interaction. The current problem of the U.S. lies precisely in this. I expect that the world will see in the next two or three years, the U.S. does not actually possess sustainable policy influence.

After the Trump administration came to power, it immediately began to deny various policies of the previous administration, from health care plans to immigration matters. At the same time, personnel in the federal government institutions were quickly replaced. This did not stop at positions like the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Treasury, the same had happened in the Supreme Court as well, and they were all changed to people who would implement what Trump wanted to implement. Since the Trump era, large-scale use of executive orders to evade legal agenda has become a common policy operation.

After only four short years, the U.S. is now governed by the Democratic Party’s Biden administration, yet its policy operations are the same as during the Trump era, but simply moving towards the opposite direction. President Biden also immediately changed his personnel and issued a large number of presidential executive orders after assuming presidency. Of course, all of President Biden's actions were centered on denying and subverting Trump's past policies.

The question is, can President Biden maintain his current policy? I believe the answer is no.

After the tragedy of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, although President Biden passed the limited infrastructure stimulus plan and started the welfare plan process, inflation has partially offset Biden's political efforts. With Biden's support rate dipping sharply, there is every reason to believe that the good days of the Democratic Party are coming to an end. President Biden's term of office is very likely to be only four years.

It is conceivable that once a Republican presidential candidate comes to power again in the future, he or she will certainly change the positions and policies again. The "policies" of the U.S. President and the U.S. government can objectively only exist for 2-3 years at best, without warranty period. This unprecedentedly serious partisan political antagonism has caused a vicious cycle where each party negating one after another, which eventually caused the people’s confidence to collapse. The people will see that democracy under bipartisan politics is actually used to cover and cater to the interests of political parties, rather than to reliably take care of the national interests as expected by the democratic designers in history.

Of course, other democracies in the world will also have policy changes after the change of government, but few are as drastic and rapid as American politics. In the current U.S. Congress, the division of the two is obvious, to the extent that one side would exhibit strong hostility to another. This has caused the U.S.’ unsustainable policies to become a joke in the world.

From the current situation, it would not be hard to predict the failure of Biden and the Democratic Party in future U.S. elections. This is not about the orientation of personal policy preferences, but rather the induction and derivation of social signals. In addition, what is more worthy of attention is that the extreme trend of American democratic society may very well lead to certain structural changes in American politics in the future. The greatest possibility of this potential change is that a "third party". i.e., a major balancing force will emerge, thereby breaking the existing structure in Congress. I believe such structural change is the most important for the future of the United States.