Much has been made over the last two years of how firmly and repeatedly Donald Trump’s presidency has kicked American democracy in its nether regions. Instead of a government, the U.S. now has a kleptocracy governed by a man-child with a demonstrated inability to keep his member in his pants or hide the fact that he can’t keep his member in his pants.
Meanwhile, Trump and company are doing their level best to dismantle the system of checks and balances on which the U.S. government is built, while dismantling the global order two hundred years of American foreign policy has built up.
Contrast this with what is happening in China:
- Record-setting economic growth.
- A military that is almost at par (and in some cases leaping ahead) of the west.
- A capacity for long-range planning that’s on track to resurrect the silk road and wholly new maritime trade routes.
- Territorial expansion into the South China Sea, Tibet and (potentially) Taiwan.
- Co-opting the US’s relationship with its former client states.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence for the functionality of the Chinese model is its capacity for sustained and effective planning. While the U.S. lurches from one partisan regime to another – systematically reversing the policies of the previous one – China appears to be a model of functionality and stability.
China’s success no longer casts shade on the value of western democracy: it’s proving to be the saner system.
The one area the U.S. could traditionally lord over China in terms of civilization and development was human rights. That’s getting harder to swallow as the U.S. continues to turn a blind eye to systemic and entrenched racism and resugent white supremacy. To claim any moral high ground in this arena, U.S. human rights would have to be moving forward, not in reverse.
Trump has effectively made a mockery of western democracy and highlighted its Achilles heel: the potential for populism and self-interest (aided and abetted by easily co-opted media) to put an individual manifestly unsuited to running a steak distributor – let alone the most powerful nation on earth – in charge.
With that degree of failure, the conversation becomes simple: who’s making greater advances for its people (economically or otherwise) and propelling their nation toward greater international stability, standing and influence?
At this point, the answer would have to be China.