How to not be a democracy — Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Professor Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Professor Yasheng Huang

From The Huffington Post

According to Democracy Index of The Economist magazine, today about 47% of the countries are democratic; 53% are either authoritarian or are a hybrid of democratic and authoritarian regimes. The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States must have given an electric jolt to that non-democratic 53% of the world. Authoritarians cheered. Vladimir Putin was among the first to call to congratulate and so did President Xi Jinping of China.

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Eric Li, a Chinese venture capitalist, who rose to prominence for his fierce defense and assertion of the superiority of the Chinese political system, wrote that many people in China supported Trump’s candidacy. Trump, Mr. Li argues, is a business pragmatist and will engage with China without what he calls “the shackles of ideology”—i.e., an ideology of democratic and liberal values. This would be good for China.

There is another reason why China—and Russia— cheered Donald Trump. Trump’s insurgency into the White House is a resounding confirmation of the view held by Eric Li and others that democracy has a weakness for incompetence and cluelessness. At its best, democracy muddles through without coherence and long-term visions; at its worst, democracy selects ignorant and dangerous demagogues. By contrast, the Chinese system is meritocratic and no-nonsense, focusing on real problems and effective solutions. To Eric Li, even President Obama is a bumbling, know-nothing, and inexperienced novice. Imagine his glee now at seeing Donald Trump in the White House.

On November 8th, 47.2% of Americans, including 53% of white women, conspired to deliver the signature proof of the grandest failing of democracy that the detractors of democracy have been yearning for—selecting a man temperamentally unfit and transparently incompetent for the highest office of the land. Score one for the authoritarians.

Read more at the Huffington Post

Yasheng Huang is the International Program Professor in Chinese Economy and Business and a Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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