First, although China’s leaders are not elected democratically, they are (contrary to what many Americans believe) very attuned to public opinion. When trouble brews, they issue statements and new laws quickly. Skeptics say they do this because they fear being overthrown and executed, like former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, rather than from true humanitarianism. Whatever their motivations, China’s leaders do in fact for the most part listen to the will of the people. Of course, they can’t always fix problems immediately, but they do show that they care about the wants of ordinary folks….
America’s political system, on the other hand, is increasingly beholden not to the wants of the majority but to minority special interest groups that hijack the national discourse. Take for instance our absurd gun laws. Our elected officials are so scared about the power of the National Rifle Association that no one is willing to take it on and do what most Americans want–limit the proliferation of weapons like the one Jared Loughner used in Tuscon. Somehow we can regulate how high shrubs should be or how often someone needs to shovel snow in front of a building, but not how safe our streets should be, because of the outsized power of a minority.