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US sinks to new low in rankings of world’s democracies

Freedom House Special Report 2021 – From Crisis to Reform: A Call to Strengthen America’s Battered Democracy: “The events of the past several months amounted to an acute crisis for democracy in the United States. An incumbent president attempted to overturn election results, a violent mob assaulted the Capitol as Congress met to formalize his defeat, and lawmakers failed to hold the outgoing leader accountable for his reckless actions, leaving him in place as the de facto chief of his party. The country avoided the worst possible outcomes. Police, at great cost, protected members of Congress from harm. The election results were given fair hearing in the courts and ultimately confirmed, and there was a peaceful transfer of power. But the crisis did not arise suddenly from an otherwise healthy political environment. US democracy is in urgent need of repair. The problems that came to a head in January had been accumulating for years. Freedom House has been tracking a gradual decline in respect for political rights and civil liberties in the United States over the past decade. The deterioration was initially marked by harmful new restrictions on voting, legislative gridlock that has made it nearly impossible for the country to address serious public policy challenges, and the growing political influence of well-funded special interest groups. The downward trend accelerated considerably over the last four years, as the Trump administration trampled institutional and normative checks on its authority, cast aside safeguards against corruption, and imposed harsh and discriminatory policies governing immigration and asylum. The United States remains a Free country, and Americans enjoy a more robust system than the vast majority of people globally. Yet when considered from a global perspective, the erosion of US democracy is remarkable, especially for a country that has long aspired to serve as a beacon of freedom for the world. A decade ago, the United States received a score of 94 out of 100 in Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties. That put it in the company of other established democracies, such as France and Germany. Today, whereas those former peers remain at 90 or above, the United States has fallen to a score of 83, leaving it in a cohort with newer democracies like Romania, Croatia, and Panama The prominence and global influence of the United States mean that its woes have a uniquely damaging effect on democracy in the rest of the world…”

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