This image depicts a partial democracy; all men, all white. Americans have moved it forward since the founding of our country. Do we want to continue with this form of governance?
Pew research tracks how Americans and others living in declared democracies feel about their governing system. On July 4 , 2022 Pew surveyed citizens about their government. It is interesting to me that 76% of older citizens age 50+ responded felt that the U.S. either stand above all other countries or is among the greatest countries; 27% of citizens age 18-49 agreed. So, it would appear that the longer Americans live here the more we appreciate their country and its government. Most appreciators are Republicans. More skeptics lean Democrat. Puzzling that the Jan. 6 attackers on the Capitol and Democracy were likely not Democrats.
This Pew study reports that about 2/3 of us say our openness to people from around the world is essential to who we are, with younger people leaning toward this view.
Among the 17 self declared democracies, U.S. citizens ranked #13 believing democracy works well with 58% not satisfied. 85% of us feel we need major changes or need to be completely reformed; most say they are not confident the system can change. Ironically, about 2/3 of us, from both Parties were confident of our future with Democrats being the most confident.
Another Pew survey reported in December 2022 looked at satisfaction with democracy and political efficacy, studying the attitudes of citizens of 19 democracies. The U.S. ranked 16th among those feeling not satisfied with the way democracy was working. Only 38% were satisfied. The top 6 satisfaction levels ranged from 79% to 57%. In the U.S. 49% of those satisfied were Democrats or leaned Democrat; 25% of Republicans and R leaners were satisfied. 71% of Americans felt that few political systems allow people like them to have influence. 70% of them are dissatisfied with democracy The survey was taken prior to the midterms. This explains a lot to me about the rise of authoritarianism in America.
Another Pew study reported on Dec. 7 2022 that 85% of Americans feel our system needs to be completely reformed or need major changes. We were # 4 of 17 democracies surveyed with the strongest negative feeling. 82% of us are economic optimists, 87% economic pessimists.
A 2017 Pew study across 38 countries reported that between 78% to 68% of citizens of democracies supported the idea of democracies and 17% to 30% did not. 49% supported rule by experts, 26% rule by a strong leader and 24% rule by the military. In the U.S. 14% on the left supported the idea of a strong leader without constraints, 23% in the center felt that way and 27% on the right.
An overwhelming majority in the U.S. believe we are not a model democracy to follow. 46% of us believe our country is run for the benefit of all of us.
Probably an overwhelming number of statistics to absorb but the net net is that while there is hope for our democracy, we have lots of work to do to achieve close to our democratic ideals and ideas. Which of course is the whole challenge of having a democracy. It takes work from all of us, work that many of us do not want to do.