Since the defeat of the Axis in World War II, the Pax Americana (American Peace) has blanketed the world. During those years, the U.S. has been the dominant world force in defending and propagating democracy. Americans won the Cold War (1947-1989) when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), that is, Soviet Russia, collapsed. Despite losing the Vietnam war in 1975, the U.S. maintained its superior position.
But as time goes on, defects in American society and governing system are weakening the U.S.’s hold on dominance. Our income inequality is growing, with the wealthy becoming wealthier while the rest of us become poorer. Our inequity rate is around the same level as Jamaica, Peru, and Cameroon. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world, with almost 2.1 million people in prison. We own more guns per person than any other nation—120.5 guns per 100 people. And the number of gunfire deaths we suffer is far greater than the rate in any other western democracy, 3.96 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019, the most recent year for which I could find complete figures. That was more than eight times as high as the rate in Canada, which had 0.47 deaths per 100,000 people—and nearly 100 times higher than in the United Kingdom, which had 0.04 deaths per 100,000. And we are indelibly stained by our history of slavery and its modern remnant, race prejudice.
Our governing apparatus is weakened by three defects which favor the well-to-do and are tinged with racial bias. The first is the electoral college which grants great power to small states and deprives residents of large states. The second is the filibuster which allows a minority of Republicans, again representing those with money, to stop laws proposed by the Democratic majority. The third is the structure of the U.S. Senate made up of two representatives from each of the fifty states, thereby granting the citizens of Wyoming, with a population of 581,000, the same power as those of California with a population of 40 million.
More next time.