Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Deplorable Distrust?

democracy, freedom, ranking, The Economist, pure democracy, republic

The United States is no longer a “full-fledged democracy.”

According to a New York Post story, our union is, instead, a “flawed democracy.”

Hmmm. Where to begin?

Despite the article’s featured photo of President Trump, the downgrading of America’s democratic status occurred prior to the billionaire’s swearing-in.

Technically, of course, the United States is not now nor has ever been a full-fledged (much less a flawed) democracy. We live in a republic . . . if we can keep it.

As is often the case, folks use the term “democracy” not to indicate it as a form of government — a pure democracy — but as a shorthand for a country with democratic elections, where “basic political freedoms and civil liberties are respected,” and with “an independent judiciary.”

An organization associated with The Economist, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), has for a decade been rating the world’s countries based on numerous political factors. For the first time, this year, the United States has dropped out of the top tier and into the second, joining the likes of Botswana, Ghana and India.

“The U.S. is the second-highest ranking flawed democracy,” the Post noted, “coming in right behind Japan and tying with Italy.” Norway garnered first place among the 19 “full-fledged democracies,” including most Western European countries.

Why was the U.S. downgraded? The EIU report explained the lower score “was caused by the same factors that led Mr. Trump to the White House: a continued erosion of trust in government and elected officials.”

So, if the American people simply placed their heads in the sand, blindly trusting politicians, we’d be “full-fledged,” eh?

Full-fledged fools fiddling away our freedom, that is.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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By: CS Admin


  1. JFB says:

    I would have thought that a healthy distrust of the government, and the demonstrated ability through election and peaceful transfer of power to change direction, would be seen by a unit of the Economist as a sign of a properly functioning Repiblic. Is it democracy, or conformance to their perferred policy they are rating? .

  2. 2War Abn Vet says:

    America is not a democracy! Our nation’s Founders, one-and-all, distrusted and despised democracy. They established a Constitutional Republic for the purpose of circumventing the “nose-counting” inherent to democracy.
    Prior to the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, Americans understood that. During, his term, and subsequently, our citizens have become enamored of democracy without truly understanding it.

  3. Paul Jacob says:

    JFB — Sadly, I think we know the answer to your question and it is obviously the latter.

    2War Abn Vet — Most folks using the term “democracy” think it synonymous with “the US republic.”

  4. Drik says:

    The sloppy terminology is a result of sloppy thinking.
    I blame government schools.

  5. Drifter says:

    The Economist is a eurosocialist rag. They are very anti-Trump and opposed to just about everything America stands for.

  6. Lloyd Sloan says:

    Thanks Paul Jacob for sharing your “common sense”. Your thought-provoking ideas provoked a few more in me.

    The issue is whether the U.S. is no longer a “full-fledged democracy” (like Norway?)– having recently been downgraded to second-class democracy (like Botswana and India).

    The typical “conservative” will answer:
    1. How dare they? America is the best at everything.
    2. We are not a democracy, we are a republic.

    These answers are closer to thoughtless than thought-provoking.
    The first is mindless nationalism. (Even the French can do this.) 🙂
    The second is in need of a dictionary. It is like saying “That’s not a rectangle. Its a square.” A (decent) republic is a representative democracy. A (crappy) republic is the Roman empire and also described in a book by Plato. Or it may have names like “People’s Republic of” or “Soviet Socialist Republic”. The worst republics are NOT democracies. Is THAT what conservatives defend?

    There is actually a MORE important concept that gets lost: LIMITED government. I think that is the point some conservatives struggle to make when they emphasize constitutions and republics. They simply don’t make the point very well. Because they don’t recognize a deeper point: the best democracies LIMIT government.

    Let’s pursue. The interesting part (as Paul discusses) is what makes a country less “full-fledged” in its democracy than others?
    How did they measure the degrees of “democratic” so as to say that America dropped down?

    The rule is:
    a country becomes less democratic the more it distrusts its government.
    Now that metric may have some merit. A democracy being “rule by the people”, if the people don’t trust the government it can hardly be a democracy.

    As a rule, Americans have traditionally been more distrustful of government than your average Canadian. But that is why Americans kept governments SMALL– only to TRUST them more, my dear. That made America MORE democratic, not less. A bigger government generally requires a docile (and uniform) people to get that high “democracy” score. Perhaps those founding Americans were onto something?

    Now Trump, like the French Revolution, arguably just made America more democratic, not less. BECAUSE he just spoke for a lot of Americans who did NOT trust their government– thus his victory increases their trust.

    HOWEVER not all agree. And there’s the rub.
    (Hillary got more votes, etc. etc.)

    This is where the thought-provoking gets even better.
    The real problem is what to do when a country is DIVIDED.
    What’s the answer when 60% of states trust ONE government (only) and the other 40% will ONLY trust a totally different government? Such a country could NEVER be a first-rate democracy, by definition, UNLESS–
    The democratic solution would be FEDERALISM (if not separation).

    Federalism (more decentralized, less centralized government powers) thereby makes a country MORE democratic.
    And that is interesting logic indeed.

  7. Paul Jacob says:

    Drik — You nailed it with “eurosocialist rag.” Though I might add “stupidly condescending” as a preface to your phrase. Their response to Brexit and voter initiatives in the US is largely to argue that if people don’t vote as they want them to, the people shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

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