Why is President Biden framing geopolitics this way?
“I predict to you your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded, autocracy or democracy, because that is what is at stake. Not just with China. Look around the world. We’re in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution of enormous consequence. Will there be a middle class? How will people adjust to these significant changes in science and technology? The environment. How will they do that? It is clear, absolutely clear … this is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies. That’s what’s at stake here. We’ve got to prove democracy works.”
Why do we have to prove democracy works? What’s wrong with sovereign nations choosing other forms of government that work well for them? What do we gain from trying to impose democracy on others who have no interest in it?
It’s ironic that Biden asks, “Will there be a middle class?” because China is rapidly building one while ours is shrinking. Would I want to live somewhere like China without the civil liberties I’ve grown accustomed to? No, I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people are willing to live with centralized power as long as their quality of life is improving.
I prefer our inefficient democracy, but it’s ethnocentric to assume our form of government is better than all the rest. Maybe in 2089, Tiananmen Square II will happen and the Chinese people will force a change of government.
Until then, improving quality of life is all that matters. Instead of framing geopolitics as a zero-sum game between democracies and autocracies, we should focus on diplomacy, 21st century environmental policies, demilitarization, creating jobs that pay livable wages, and reducing poverty home and abroad.
Granted, this is nitpicking. Biden is off to a great start. What a refreshing reset. Nevertheless, no matter how successful he is over the next 3+ years, I will never vote for an 82 year-old for President.