PODCAST | POLITICS UNMUTED: Is American democracy in danger?

Listen to News24's new podcast Politics Unmuted, where our microphones are never muted and we turn up the volume on all things political.
Listen to News24's new podcast Politics Unmuted, where our microphones are never muted and we turn up the volume on all things political.
Kayleen Morgan
  • The hotly contested American elections and the race for the White House have kept people on the edge of their seats around the world. 
  • The erosion of their democracy is gathering pace.
  • It has brought into sharp focus the need for multilateralism and progressive politics.

In the third episode of Politics Unmuted, a new podcast by News24, we talk about the American elections, the state the country finds itself in, and what it means for democracy.

Political editor Qaanitah Hunter talks to News24 assistant editor for in-depth news, Pieter du Toit, and News24 political reporter Lizeka Tandwa about whether the US could learn from countries like South Africa. 

The trio of political hacks provide insights and analysis into America's electoral system.

Unlike the US, South Africa has an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) that collates results from around the country. But, in the US, every state runs its own electoral system.

Du Toit asks the question: "Does that open it up to manipulation?"

He believes the US, with the polarisation they are experiencing in that country, could perhaps learn from countries "like ourselves".

As in South Africa over the past decade, the media has played an important role in America - but, despite this, the three journalists believe the erosion of US democracy is gathering pace.

Hunter points out what the late American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said - that if you want to draft a constitution in today's era, do not look at the US constitution, but rather to South Africa's constitution instead, as a great one for embracing human rights and having an independent judiciary.

The electoral college system is how Americans have been voting presidents in for 150 years, Du Toit says, and the US public is "reluctant to change".

Du Toit also points out another critical weakness in America's system - unlike in South Africa, where Constitutional Court judges have a limited term - Supreme Court judges in the US are appointed for life, essentially "political appointees".

This doesn't ensure the independence of the judiciary, which is essentially a "cornerstone of democracy". 

If you missed our previous episodes, catch them here.

Politics Unmuted, where our microphones are never muted, and we turn up the volume on all things political. 

politics, podcast

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