In Need of Shoring Up

The US ranking in the world is slipping.[1]  Out of 209 countries and territories evaluated in 2009, 31 had a higher Freedom House score than the United States.  By 2019, 51 countries and territories had a higher Freedom House score than the United States. The slippages are especially worrisome regarding election procedures, pluralism, government responsiveness, freedom of assembly, and the rule of law.  Thus far, the U.S. remains a world leader in freedom of expression and personal freedoms.

Declines in the quality of our liberal, republican democracy might also be driving down our trust. That decline could have serious consequences. Some political scientists and historians believe political regimes become vulnerable to attack or breaking down when political trust collapses.[2]  What can ordinary American citizens do to improve our system?  We take that up tomorrow and the next day.

[1] Other sources such as the Economic Intelligence Unit or the Varieties of Democracy Project tell the same story, with only minor variations in timing and magnitudes.

[2] Tilly (2007), for example, argues that countries de-democratize when people no longer trust a regime to serve their interests, and when they no longer trust a regime to keep them safe from their opponents. Mounk & Foa (2016) argue several republics are at risk due to falling political trust.

Excerpted from Political Trust and Distrust, Part 2 of 2. Free course. One paragraph per day.

Image: Slippage in Freedom House scores for USA.

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