Ahead of Tuesdays’ midterm elections, The New York Times published a report touting how other countries across the world are worried that America is backsliding away from democracy by potentially electing Republicans and 2020 election deniers.
New York Times’ Sydney, Australia bureau chief Damien Cave reported on Tuesday that “many of the democracies that once looked to the United States as a model are worried that it has lost its way,” and wrote that these foreign observers say former President Donald Trump and his influence are to blame.
Cave wrote on the experience of a local council candidate in Taiwan, Lin Wei-hsuan, who “was just a child when he observed his first Taiwanese election almost two decades ago.”
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Cave described how Lin’s “parents took him to watch the vote-counting, where volunteers held up each paper ballot, shouting out the choice and marking it on a board for all to see — the huge crowd of citizens inside, and many more watching live on television.”
That “open process” reflected America’s influence on Taiwan. Cave wrote, “At the time, America was what Taiwan aspired to be.” Though he claimed it’s different today. Cave said, “But now, many of the democracies that once looked to the United States as a model are worried that it has lost its way.”
The author claimed many foreigners point to Trump and his movement as the manifestation of the U.S. missing the mark. He said, “They wonder why a superpower famous for innovation is unable to address its deep polarization, producing a president who spread false claims of election fraud that significant parts of the Republican Party and the electorate have embraced.”
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He cited Mr. Lin once more, who now at age 26, claims, “Democracy needs to revise itself.” He added, “We need to look at what it’s been doing, and do better.”
Cave then wrote that the 2022 U.S. midterms “are another data point on what some see as a trend line of trouble. Especially in countries that have found ways to strengthen their democratic processes, interviews with scholars, officials and voters revealed alarm that the United States seemed to be doing the opposite and sliding away from its core ideals.”
They blamed the “Jan 6 riots,” “states’ erecting barriers to voting after the record turnout that resulted from widespread early and absentee voting during the pandemic,” and the Supreme Court “falling prey to party politics,” for this slide.
Cave spoke to residents of Nova Scotia, who claimed to be “very concerned” for the U.S. One stated, “never thought it would happen in the U.S., but I think it’s going to be perhaps autocratic going forward.”
He also quoted Australia’s “center-right” prime minister,” Malcolm Turnbull, who claimed that America’s Trump problem was “like watching a family member, for whom you have enormous affection, engage in self-harm.” Turnbull added, “It’s distressing.”
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Lithuanian activist Arkadijus Vinokuras told Cave that he once thought of America as the “defender of global democracy and the guarantor of the vitality of Western democracies.” Though now he claims, “even the biggest fan of the U.S. has to ask the question: How could this happen to the guarantor of democracy?”
Cave also cited a Senegalese graduate student in the political science department at Cheikh Anta Diop University who stated, “You take the U.S. democracy after Trump, no doubt that it’s weaker.”