Human rights record of the United States

Updated: 2016-04-15 08:09

(China Daily)

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Political Rights Not Safeguarded

In 2015, money politics and clan politics went from bad to worse in the nation where voters found it hard to express their real volition and there was discrimination against belief in political life. In addition, citizens' right to information was further suppressed. Unsurprisingly, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that "the U.S. is no longer a democracy" (, August 3, 2015).

Money politics revealed the hypocrisy in democracy. Although the laws of the United States put a lid on the size of individual donations to presidential candidates, there is no limit for such contributions to super PACs by individuals and corporations. The USA Today reported on April 10, 2015 that the allies of at least 11 White House hopefuls had launched committees to raise unlimited money to back their campaigns (, April 10, 2015). The presidential candidates and the super PACs raised about 380 million U.S. dollars in only half a year. More than 60 donations were worth more than 1 million U.S. dollars each, accounting for about one third of the total contributions. Half of the amount came from those who donated more than 100,000 U.S. dollars and the combined fund of the top 67 donors was more than three times that of 508,000 donors with least contributions (, August 1;, August 1). According to a report of the Zerohedge, between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America's most politically active corporations spent a combined 5.8 billion U.S. dollars on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. What they gave paled compared to what those same corporations got: 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars in federal business and support. Put that in context, the sum represented two thirds of what individual taxpayers paid into the federal treasury. For every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation's most politically active corporations received 760 U.S. dollars from the government (, March 16, 2015). Jimmy Carter said that with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president, the U.S. political system was subverted to be a payoff to major contributors (, August 3, 2015). The role money played in politics was also indicated in the U.S. President's State of the Union Address for 2016, which said a handful of families and hidden interests were exercising influence on elections via their funds.

Clan politics was driving U.S. government elections. Among the candidates for the 2016 presidential election, more than one candidate was obviously related to clan politics. The New York Times concluded through big data analysis that advantages from father generation played a role in politics obviously. The chance for the son of a U.S. president to become president was 1.4 million times higher than his peers. Meanwhile the chance for a governor's son to be elected governor was 6,000 times higher than ordinary people. In addition, the chance for the son of a senator to be a senator like his father was also 8,500 times higher than ordinary U.S. men (, March 22, 2015). The Washington Post reported on January 16, 2015 that since the beginning of the Republic, 8.7 percent of its members of Congress were closely related to someone who had served in the body. The report continued to point out that a smell of heirship could be detected in the U.S. presidential election since the possible slate of candidates would include the son of a governor and presidential candidate, the son of a congressman and presidential candidate, the wife of a president and the brother of a president, son of a president and grandson of a senator (, January 16, 2015).

Discrimination against beliefs led to unfairness in political life. Not believing in God could be the biggest disadvantage while running for a post in public office. It was difficult for those who were not Christians to win elections and for those who did not have a religious belief, the chance to win elections was slimmer. In a May 2014 Pew Research survey, atheism was the most disqualifying factor for a potential presidential candidate, according to a report posted on the website of The Washington Post on September 22, 2015. More than half of those surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for someone who did not believe in God. And another Pew poll in July 2014 found that of all religion-related groups, atheists and Muslims were viewed the most negatively by Americans (, September 22, 2015).

Citizens' electoral rights were further limited. According to an article on the website of the U.S. News and World Report on August 4, 2015, since 2010, a total of 21 states had adopted new laws to limit the exercise of suffrage. Some states shortened the time for early voting, while others limited the number of documents identifying one as a lawful voter. A total of 14 states will carry out fresh measures to limit the exercise of suffrage for the first time in 2016 presidential election. The voting rights were hit by the vicious competition between the two parties. One Democratic candidate accused GOP presidential candidates of having "systematically and deliberately" tried to keep millions of Americans from voting so as to win the election (, August 4, 2015). A USA Today report, which was published on its website on March 20, 2015, said the nation had its lowest midterm-election voter turnout in 2014 since the early 1940s. The average turnout across the United States was 37 percent, with a low of 28.8 percent recorded in Indiana (, March 20, 2015).

It was difficult for voters to express their real will. The Christian Science Monitor carried a report on its website on December 13, 2015 that the two-party system forced the voters to take side. Most voters cast ballots for a party not because they supported the party but out of fear and worry over the other one (, December 13, 2015). It was said in the U.S. President's State of the Union Address for 2016 that the practice of drawing congressional districts led to the situation where "politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around." It went on to say that "the rancor and suspicion between parties has gotten worse instead of better."

Citizens' right to information was hampered by the government. According to a report by the Associated Press on March 13, 2015, authorities were undermining the laws that were supposed to guarantee citizens' right to information and the systems created to give citizens information about their government. In addition, it was getting harder to use public records to hold government officials accountable (, March 13, 2015). An article on the website of the CNN reported on February 13, 2015 that journalists and news supervision authorities had continually slammed the current U.S. administration as one of the least transparent. At least 15 journalists were arrested in Ferguson protests (, February 13, 2015).