The events of this past week will influence the very idea of democracy forever. As the United States Capitol suffered an indecent insurrection, the world watched in horror as the President of The United States, encouraged his base to violently attack Congress. However, this was not just an attack on The United States, this was an attack on global democracy. Authoritarian dictatorships around the world are using the events of January 6, 2021, as an example of the fragility and failures of a democratic government. As we work to address and fix the broken pieces of our democracy, we also need to strive to repair and build on global democracy.
Global democracy is the ability to hold free and fair elections for all global citizens. Climate change, disease, and food supply influence every breathing person on this earth, and they deserve to have their opinions heard. This requires eliminating misinformation, conspiracy theories, and authoritarianism.
Misinformation and fake news are the biggest threats to global democracy. Baseless conspiracy theories are ripping apart the democratic system in America. Unfortunately, some of our political leaders are significant contributors to the perpetuation of myths and untruths. Many in President Trump’s party not only remained silent in the face of his lies, but even went along with them. Fact and fiction are being intertwined, with social media’s help, to create a web of misinformation and lies leading to a mistrust of the voting system in America. Not only do these conspiracy theories undermine the success of the democratic system in America, but they also threaten the credibility of democracy as a whole. If America is to be viewed as the leading democracy globally, but its democracy is crumbling under attacks from within, how can other democratic countries be expected to handle these same issues?
While some nations strive for a democratic system of fair voting and elections, others adopt a tyrannical government structure. These two drastically different government styles are currently manifested into tensions between the United States of America and countries like Russia and China. The USA has stood against dictatorships for generations: during both World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. However, the USA has not eliminated totalitarianism. Some autocratic nations are still thriving. The continuation of authoritarian governments is deeply problematic because these nations’ leaders do not represent the will of the people they govern, making them unable to reflect their citizens’ opinions. Even more disturbingly, due to the rampant spread of misinformation, mainly over social media, the United States could lose its democratic values. The destruction of dictatorial states will require a global commitment to facts and to fair elections, and the USA must lead with a renewed commitment to truth.
Improving and expanding global democracy requires that all people of Earth participate in choosing who governs them and that they have access to accurate information on the issues facing the human race. It also requires the United States to lead by forcefully renouncing authoritarianism, misinformation, and anti-democratic impulses. This will require limiting social media companies and users’ abilities to post untrue information. It will require all Americans to accept tangible results, even if they disagree with them.