Fri, 21 Jan 2022

US Needs a Self-inspection Before Advertising its Model

Holly E. Barr
06 Dec 2021, 08:36 GMT+10

Though Judge Bruce Schroeder, who presided over the highly controversial Kyle Rittenhouse trial, noted this is not a political trial, it turned political in every possible way in the highly politicized and polarized America.

Right-wing politicians and pundits declared the not guilty verdict of Rittenhouse, who shot three men, killing two and injuring one, a victory for gun rights and self-defense.

Many on the left, on the other hand, denounced the verdict. Some questioned how things would unfold with a defendant of color. Outrage ignited protests across the country, which sometimes went too far with protestors engaging in violent behavior that included breaking windows and throwing objects at officers on the scene.

The Rittenhouse trial and violent protests offered a glimpse into a troubled US society plagued by issues including gun violence, racial disparity, and deep political division, all leading to more unrest and an increasingly incendiary atmosphere.

The nation just recorded its highest increase in rates of homicide in modern history. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 30 percent rise in homicide rate from 2019 to 2020, the largest leap in a century.

Violent incidents also cast a shadow over this holiday season.

High-end stores in California were hit by a string of smash-and-go robberies ahead of Thanksgiving, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in goods missing. A Christmas parade held in Waukesha, Wisconsin, just days after the Rittenhouse trial got a bloody finish when a driver drove an SUV into a crowd.

Those are a few blood stains on the US map against the backdrop of the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed more than 700,000 lives in the US. Still, the rate of Americans fully vaccinated just hit 60 percent, while pandemic preventing measures of vaccination and masking often get politicized.

All too many signs are showing that US society is facing problems. The government, however, keeps failing to win back the trust of its people.

According to the most recent Gallup poll, Americans trust in government and institutions has plummeted in the past years, with only 39 percent trusting the government in handling both international and domestic problems.

The health condition of American democracy is problematic, and it is evident worldwide. Pew research center found out from a survey of 17 advanced economies that few believe US democracy, at least in its current state, serves as a fair model for other nations. Only 17 percent say the democracy in the US is a good example for others, and nearly half do not believe the US political system is functioning.

Some domestic challenges that failed to be successfully addressed by the US administration have spilled over to affect neighboring countries, with gun violence being one of them.

Latin America and the Caribbean, two regions already suffering from the highest rates of firearm homicides, saw their gun-related violence exacerbated by weapons from the US.

Despite having a troublesome domestic political landscape, the White House is preparing to host the virtual Summit for Democracy. Such an attempt reduces the multi-color palette of the modern world to a minimalist black and white graphics of a global fight between democracies and autocracies, said Andrey Kortunov, director-general of the Russian International Affairs Council.

If the goal is to advertise the US political, social and economic model, Washington should probably delay the summit and put its house in order first, he added.

Holly E. Barr

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