|United States President, Donald Trump|
The United States has been demoted — it is no longer a “full
democracy,” but officially a flawed one, according to the Economist
Intelligence Unit, EIU.
The EIU issues an annual report, The Democracy Index, which ranks
nations under four categories: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid
regime and authoritarian regime.
The latest index, in which America’s score fell to 7.98 (8.00 is
required to be a full democracy), is titled for a probable explanation: Democracy Index 2016, Revenge of the Deplorables.
The United States in now ranked below Japan, the top-rated flawed
democracy, and above Italy, which is not known for its smoothness of
The EIU report says the decline “reflects an erosion of confidence in
government and public institutions over many years” as “public trust in
government has been on a steady downward trend since shortly after the
September 11th attacks in 2001.”
Donald Trump, who the report notes was elected by “exploiting this
trust deficit and tapping into Americans’ anger and frustration with the
functioning of their democratic institutions and representatives,” is
not to blame. To wit, “his candidacy was not the cause of the
deterioration in trust but rather a consequence of it.”
The Index attributes the fall from full democracy to multiple factors
which have undermined confidence in institutes over the course of
decades: the Vietnam War, Watergate scandal, Iraqs, and the
housing/financial crisis of 2008-2009.
Drawing a resonant theme from the 2016 election, the EIU found
“income inequality has also been a key underlying factor,” and is
greater in the US than in other rich countries. “Studies show that
higher income inequality reduces trust in others and social capital—this
is linked to a notion of fairness,” says the report.
Another factor cited for the slide was deepening partisanship, contributed to by gerrymandering.
“The ideological entrenchment of congressional representatives
fosters deadlock,” according to the EIU. “Bitter partisanship has
developed, in part because many congressional districts have been
redrawn in a way that gives one party a built-in advantage.”
This results in the inability to compromise, as “members of Congress
fear a challenge in their party primaries, which are controlled by the
party base, and are consequently incentivised to move to the right (for
Republicans) or to the left (for Democrats).” That refusal to
compromise, says the report, “reinforces a lack of confidence in
Congress among voters.”