Democracy is a method for making decisions, hence can be employed by any organization, from a family of husband and wife with or without children, to corporations with or without employee unions, to churches with or without dioceses or parishes (ecclesiastical polity, for example in Christianity) to nations with or without federations. When an organizational structure is defined, democracy can be elevated to a system level which defines procedures and sequences of decision making. But it is not a concept of ideology, like authoritarianism, liberalism, capitalism, communism or socialism. In fact, democracy of different forms and systems have been employed by authoritarian, liberal, capitalistic to socialistic countries. To say only liberal and capitalistic countries can be democratic is absurd if one examines how communist (for example Cuba) or socialistic (for example Venezuela) country employed democracy. Western political scientists often equate democracy with a particular voting system or procedure and idealize it, but there is no theoretical argument or practical proof that a direct voting (one person one vote) is superior to a delegate voting (elected representative system). In fact, the U.S. employs both methods in her state level and national level for electing leaders and legislating laws.
Democracy should mean that the decision-making method should reflect the opinion and the benefit of the people no matter whether it is exercised by direct voting (Governor or mayor) or representative voting (U.S. Senators and Congress members). Hence opinion survey is a necessary and useful method to understand how people feel about the result of their decision making (election or legislation) and the effectiveness of the administration they directly or indirectly elected. Naturally, opinion survey should be conducted independently and fairly by public media. Unfortunately, media often lose their independency and fairness when their surveys were funded by government or corporations having their vested interest or ulterior motive, very different from the citizens'. (Public media dwarfs before the enterprise media in the U.S. and in the world and often has a hidden boss behind, that is a conglomerated media enterprise. Pew Research Center is a charitable trust with seventy years of history dedicated to opinion survey with a mission of nonpartisan, evidence based and innovative approach to seek public opinion to make state and national government more responsive. Recently (July 25, 2022), Pew published a survey of international opinion on Biden. While the U.S. is apparently slipping in her international standing from her leadership point of view and she is engaging an all-out anti-China and anti-Russia foreign policy. The Pew survey result is a timely one. In the following, we shall extract the essence of the Pew survey and comment on the Biden Administration and U.S. foreign policy.
Perhaps Biden’s domestic rating below 40% (as low as 32%) motivated Pew to do an international survey. However, from what Pew published in open media, we netted out a few points here and their implications:
1. Apparently placing Biden in the best light, Pew states 58% adults across 18 countries is confident that Biden is doing the right thing. (Canada 61%, Poland 82%, Sweden 74%, Netherlands 67%, Germany 64%, Belgium 61%, UK 56%, France 53%, Spain 48%, Italy 45%, Greece 41%, Hungary 31%, S. Korea 70%, Japan 62%, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore divided, Israel 60% (but only 41% on strong leadership, 36% on caring people, 27% charismatic). This survey covers mostly U.S. Allies; the other parts of the world most likely will not fare better than Italy, Greece or Hungary. With Biden Administration’s strong support to Israel, he is still viewed as a weak and not caring leader may say more than this survey data.
2. One notable point in the survey is that Biden’s rating dropped from 2021 to 2022. Thirteen out of fourteen countries had a double-digit drop making Italy, Greece, Spain and Singapore showing below 50%. However, in most places Biden rating was higher than Trump’s except in Israel (Trump had 71% in 2019). Under the U.S. election system, the Israel issue is strongly correlated with fund raising, hence Biden is competing with Trump on Israel support for fund raising. Since Trump successfully ignited a 'blame China' fire, Biden is also competing with Trump on who is tougher in anti-China. Biden not only continued Trump's anti-China tarriff, technology sanction but also launched several anti-China alliances from both military and supply chain stand without a rational SWOT analysis. Some analysts have pointed out that targeting China is not to the best interest of the U.S.
3. Naturally, Biden is representing the U.S., so when the U.S. is seen positively, so does Biden. Older folks (>50) than younger people (18-29) have more confidence on Biden except opposite in Hungary, Italy and Poland. This deserves more in-depth analysis, especially while the Ukraine war is still raging on. On the Afghanistan withdrawal, Biden’s policy has more support, but his withdrawal method was less supported. This is understandable, since the withdrawal was seen world-wide as not an orderly one. Biden's NATO policy and Ukraine war has obviously bounded Russia, China and Iran together.
4. Pew compared Biden with other Western leaders on the confidence issue. The results are similar, Biden 58%, Macron 61%, Scholtz 58% (German people were more negative on Biden than Scholtz). Comparing with Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi, the positive ratings were 9% and 18% respectively with 77% and 90% answered ‘don’t know’. This is obviously a phenomenon of media bias or news ignorance. The Western media monopolizes news reporting and seldom covers positive news about President Xi or Putin, for the Western public. China and Russia are increasing their media export, but the West generally treat them as propaganda causing people ignoring them. The Pew data should alert people to expose to broader media source to gain deeper and more accurate knowledge, especially in comparing leaders.
Recently, the third ranking U.S. official, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan (despite of China’s protest and warning and Biden and Pentagon’s advice), challenging the One China principle. Naturally, it caused tension in the Taiwan Strait; China retaliated with military exercises surrounding the entire Taiwan island. According to public survey, only 34% of Americans can identify where Taiwan is located on the world map, yet in an old Pew survey on trust factor, 78% of Americans considers the tension between Mainland China and Taiwan is a serious problem for the U.S., with no clear reasoning. This disconnect in public opinion clearly shows that the so-called confidence or trust factor issue are very much distorted by the U.S. media. Today, the overwhelming media are not evidence data, for example, ‘the beautiful scenery in Hong Kong protest’ (Pelosi’s praise for violence until storming the U.S. capitol scared herself.) and ‘Uighur genocide’ (Pompeo’s fake story brought China’s sanction on him - unwelcomed by China anywhere or doing business with any Chinese corporation). This author has pleaded the UN to set up a World Media Organization (similar to World Health Organization or World Trade Organization) to establish rules to manage world media so global citizens will have a trustable world media. The world needs it!