Last Friday, as part one of its Hillary Leaks series, WikiLeaks released almost 20,000 emails and more than 8,000 attachments from the accounts of seven key figures of the US Democratic National Committee. It confirmed what had been obvious to many; that the primaries for choosing the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party were fixed to favour Hillary Clinton. A few days later, the party convention in Philadelphia merrily nominated her to run for president.

The rigging of primaries is a small chink in the armour of US democracy when you compare it to the gaping holes that perforate it, from a structurally flawed presidential election process to the way political campaigns are financed. Yet this small chink exposes the fraud at the heart of US democracy, a presidential election that basically boils down to the corporate-run mainstream media joining hands with the corporate-financed political elite to manipulate American voters as a herd of sheep. The will of the people can go to hell for all they care.

If you think it’s just me who thinks that, think again. A host of prominent writers and senior politicians have highlighted the patently anti-democratic foundations on which US democracy stands today. Even former US President Jimmy Carter has arrived at the conclusion that the US is no longer ruled by democracy and its system of governance could be best described as an oligarchy.

The best proof of this assertion is in the muddy pudding of policies that US governments, both Republican and Democratic, have pursued at home and abroad, especially of late. The policies formulated by this bi-partisan elite have put corporate profits over the interests of American citizens almost as a rule. Those in charge of the destiny of Americans understand very well who they need to please to stay and rise in power. Not the American electorate of course.

The upcoming Hillary versus Trump circus is sure to cure us of any illusions we might still have about the worth of American democracy. The loud fireworks that the pre-planned contest is expected to generate have been specially designed to drown out any serious debate on what ails the American democracy. Both candidates will use personal attacks and identity politics, make mountains out of issues that are molehills and stay mum about things that really matter.

Each party will scare its voters with the other party’s monster, egging them on to vote for the lesser evil. Interestingly, that means we can only be sure of one thing: whoever wins, he or she will be evil. Whoever wins the imperialistic war-mongering of Hillary and the xenophobia of Trump will define his or her agenda. Whoever wins, predatory capitalism will march on to benefit the one percent. The winds of change blowing across America, as witnessed during the Sanders campaign, will remain unrepresented.

So, before grading the whole world for democracy, and expecting sovereign states to stand in line to receive democracy certificates from it, shouldn’t the US put its own democracy house in order first? If it is so deeply inspired by democratic ideals, shouldn’t it be focusing on the blatant violation of those ideals at home before anything else? Is it in any position to speak for democracy, let alone export it to the world? Besides, how does one explain the double standards when it comes to how it grades others?

The barbaric states of Israel and India that butcher the principles of democracy every minute of every day in Palestine and Kashmir are eulogised as flag-bearers of democracy. The authoritarian monarchies in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are fine, but the elected government of Assad must go. After gifting blood-soaked democracies to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine in just fifteen years and six months of this century, it is openly orchestrating a terrorist war on Syria to bring it democracy.

Russia might have a democratic system that works better than the American hogwash, but it is portrayed as a grim place that must be rescued from the authoritarian rule of Putin. Crimea where almost everyone voted to rejoin the Russian federation is described as an annexation to be punished with sanctions while the denial of democratic rights of Kashmiris by India and Palestinians by Israel attracts not even a rebuke.

Explaining away the contradictions in terms of realpolitik and national interest won’t do. It’s actually an admission that the entire democracy charade is an eye-wash, that it has nothing to do with democratic ideals. Clearly, democracy is little more than an imperialist weapon in the arsenal of the US-led empire, used for controlling sovereign states through corrupt political elites willing to collaborate on the one hand, and for changing unfavourable regimes in distant lands through military interventions, proxy terrorists and corporate-driven NGOs on the other.

It is important to make the distinction between the ideals of democracy and the US-generated noise around its fraudulent ‘freedom and democracy’ agenda. In fact, getting good grades for democracy from Uncle Sam is a clear indication that the government receiving those good grades is forwarding the imperialist agenda at the cost of the citizens it represents, and is therefore essentially undemocratic. Those demonised by the US for being authoritarian are usually doing good things for their people, like the elected governments of Venezuela, Russia and Iran among others.

Democracy is a good thing but any country striving for democratic governance must devise its own grading system to evaluate the performance of its democratic institutions. As we can see in the case of the US, and also our own country, the label of democracy doesn’t make a system democratic. It must pass the tests of representativeness, rule of law, transparency and equal opportunity among others. Granted that no system is perfect and democracy is more of a process rather than a rigid structure, it must move towards these ideals to qualify as democratic.

Above all that, for a system to be democratic, it must work for the collective good of its citizens rather than paving the way for corporate plunder and serving petty interests of the ruling elite.