Is Democracy Falling in Our Republic?

The quality of our republican democracy and its liberal protections has been slipping. Freedom House provides an annual survey of Freedom in the World that measures seven categories relevant to liberal republicanism. Four of seven Freedom House categories have slipped between 2009 and 2019: the rule of law (-19 percentage points), government responsiveness and accountability (-17 percentage points), pluralism and participation (-12 percentage points), and election procedures (-9 percentage points). The slippage in the rule of law is especially worrying because it was already 12 percentage points below the ideal maximum in 2009.[i]  Thus far, our system has preserved high scores only for personal freedoms and rights. Scores for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and organization also remain high but showed some wobbling in previous years.

[i] An examination of the Freedom House data shows a decline in due process in 2016, a reduction in judicial independence in 2017, and a decline in equal treatment by the law in 2019.

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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