US sinks below Mongolia and Argentina in global ranking for freedom

Racial inequality, money in politics, and rise in polarisation reasons for 11-point drop for US in global freedom rankings

The United States has dropped 11 points in 10 years in the global ranking for freedom. A new report from democracy watchdog Freedom House charting the political and civil rights of different nations has the US down significantly because of racial inequality, the negative impact of money in politics, and the rise in polarisation between Americans.

Feb 9, 2021: From voter ID laws to limiting mail-in ballots, Republican lawmakers in 33 states are considering 165 different laws that would make it harder to vote. NBC News’ Jane Time explains the Republican’s effort to restrict access to the ballot box.

Coming in at 83 out of 100 possible points, the US is now tied with countries such as PanamaRomania, and Croatia, and behind Argentina and Mongolia. America is outstripped by the United Kingdom and Chile which both got 93 points, Costa Rica at 91 and Slovakia at 90.

The nordic trio of FinlandSweden, and Norway were the only countries getting full marks at 100 points. America’s neighbour to the north, Canada, came in at 98 points.

The United States went from 94 points in 2010 to 83 points in 2020. The drop, analysed by Freedom House’s vice president of research and analysis, Sarah Repucci, comes after events taking place during the last several months that “amounted to an acute crisis for democracy in the United States”, she writes.

She told The Guardian: “Dropping 11 points is unusual, especially for an established democracy, because they tend to be more stable in our scores.”

Freedom House usually does not write a report focusing on the ins and outs of American democracy, but did so this year because of the stark developments that came at the detriment of freedom.

These developments include the racial inequality in voting and criminal justice, with Black and Native Americans being most acutely affected. That public trust in the government has been eroded thanks to the ways wealthier Americans used their finances to buy influence is another factor in the point-drop.

Partisan gerrymandering, meaning the process of drawing districts in a way that benefit one party over another, has lead to levels of polarisation so high that it’s a threat to democracy, the report argues.

“The practice of partisan gerrymandering … has the most corrosive and radicalising effect on US politics, generating a multitude of districts in which one party can be virtually certain of victory,” the report states.

Ms Repucci told The Guardian: “We’re really concerned about these longer-term challenges that aren’t going to be addressed with quick fixes, that were kind of highlighted during the Trump administration and, in some cases, taken advantage of, by that administration.

Jun 12, 2020: The nationwide anti-police-brutality protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd in the US have been marked by widespread police violence, including punching, kicking, gassing, pepper-spraying and the driving of vehicles at often peaceful protesters. Many of the incidents have been caught on camera and shared on social media, leading to calls to defund the police

“A change of president is not gonna make them go away.”

The report makes three broad recommendations based on these issues to bring American democracy up to scratch.

The report suggests that the US “lower barriers to voting as part of a comprehensive effort to address racial injustice,” and it argues that campaign finance laws be tightened to “curb the influence of money in politics”. Finally, “independent redistricting commissions” should be established to “reduce political polarisation and extremism,” the report concludes.

While state Republicans hope to halt the trends of states moving towards Democratic rule in its tracks by making it harder to vote, as reported by VoxDemocrats on the national level are pushing a voting rights package that addresses the issues stated in the report.

Mar 25, 2021: A new report reveals that as a record number of people in the United States lost their jobs and struggled to put food on the table during the past year of the pandemic, the combined wealth of the 657 billionaires in the country grew more than $1.3 trillion, nearly 45%, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who saw his personal wealth increase by $65 billion — more than $7 million every hour.

The House passed a massive voting bill earlier this month, but it faces an “uphill battle” in the SenateThe New York Times reports.

“American democracy is still strong and we still have a lot going for us especially in the strength of our institutions and in the mobilisation that is possible among the population. I do think that these problems can be solved and people should take heart in that,” Ms Repucci told The Guardian.

Published by amongthefray

News with a historical perspective. Fighting against misinformation, hate, and revisionist history.

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