Why do some mainland Chinese see the Western democratic system as a joke these days?

We have to differentiate between “Western” democratic system and US democratic system because the US differs in a few ways compared to say Canada or Australia or Europe.

  • US has a presidential system, where the head of government – the President matters far more than a prime minister does in a parliamentary system. In the US, it’s almost defined by who the President is. In Canada or Australia or Europe, the prime minister is just the head of the party. It really doesn’t matter too much who the head of the party is, it matters more which party is in charge. In the US, it matters who is in charge. You can see within the same party – Trump is quite a different President from George W Bush. so the person in charge matters a lot more in the US.
  • US has an electoral college system where the states vote on who become President. The popular vote doesn’t matter. Trump and George W Bush both won the election despite losing the popular vote. In a parliamentary system the popular vote actually matters and will influence the election. Also, the US holds an election every 4 years and have to wait 4 years to force the President out if they don’t like him (because the impeachment process is obviously broken). In a parliamentary system, an election can be forced by a vote of no-confidence at any time if the people feel that the prime minister is not doing a good job. Also, US Presidents can only serve up to 8 years in office. Western Prime Ministers do not have a term limit; they serve as long as the people feel they are doing a good job.
  • There’s a lot of quirks about the USA that other democratic Western countries don’t have. ie. the US has very loose firearms policy and gun control is very lax; it is strict in other Western countries. the US’s healthcare system is a privilege not a right and the employer covers healthcare; in other Western countries the healthcare is provided by the government free of charge (free in the sense that you don’t pay upfront; it is paid for by taxes). US has prohibitively expensive higher education – in other Western countries higher education is subsidized or free of charge (paid for by taxes). The US also has abnormally low tax rates compared to other Western countries, probably because the US government doesn’t really provide much social benefit to its citizens.

So I keep telling Chinese people you have to differentiate ‘Western’ countries from the USA because the US is so different from other Western countries. Also, we have to talk about what is a ‘Western’ country. Generally I find when Chinese talk about Westerners or Western countries they mainly mean the US and Americans, but generally also include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe as well. What about Eastern Europe? Mexico? Central America? South America? Are these included? Cause they are part of the Western hemisphere but are pretty different in their social welfare compared to other Western countries. So yeah I don’t like it when Chinese generalize Western countries like this when really they just mean the USA.