Democratic Recession

The United States fell in the bottom half of twenty six nations judged as “full democracies” in a 2010 survey.  Out of 167 nations covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index, 26 were classified as full democracies, with the U.S. ranked in 17th place overall.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.  Countries are placed within one of four types of regimes: full democracies; flawed democracies; hybrid regimes; and authoritarian regimes.

Although the overall U.S. score on a 0 to 10 scale was 8.18, America ranked below flawed democracies and a hybrid regime in every category except political participation and political culture, in which respective scores tied South Africa and Italy, both classified as flawed democracies.

Since 2008, the index on a global scale has shown characteristics of what Foreign Affairs called a “democratic recession,” with democracy scores decreasing in 91 nations, as opposed to 48 with higher scores.

Analyzing the global reversal of democratization that instead had accelerated after the Cold War, The Wall Street Journal cited evidence that assigned much of the downward trend to Barack Obama’s negligence.

President Obama rejected democracy promotion entirely in his 2008 campaign, buying into the liberal critique that a morally deficient U.S. (Guantanamo, “torture”) had no business pushing values on anyone.  When Iran‘s Green Revolution erupted briefly in summer 2009, Mr. Obama was a passive observer.

But Americans in 2012 will again have an opportunity to promote democracy with a new president, who judges it as necessary and expedient that Congress form an American Commission for Enlargement, similar to that created by the European Union a half a century ago.  With such a commission, the American people could then effect safety and happiness according to President George Washington’s farewell wish, with the glory of recommending the United States Constitution to “the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation.”


“The Democracy Recession.” The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2010.