According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, America, the often self-proclaimed greatest democracy on Earth, is no longer a "full democracy."
The EIU was established in 1946 and reaches over two hundred countries worldwide. It helps large industry and governments understand how the world is changing, and allows them to identify opportunities, as well as possible risks or threats that may need to be managed. As an essential component of this work, it also bears the responsibility of ranking countries according to their state of government.
The EIU ranks countries based on five categories: civil liberties, political participation, political culture, the overall functioning of government, and electoral process and pluralism.
Depending on their score, they may be classified as a full democracy, a flawed democracy, a mixed regime, or an authoritarian regime. A flawed democracy is broadly characterized as a country that holds free elections, but is troubled by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture, and low levels of political participation.
This is where America now finds itself in the democracy index.
The EIU's report, titled "Democracy Index 2016: Revenge of the 'Deplorables,'" downgraded the U.S. from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" on January 25, 2017. American now finds itself in the company of other flawed democratic countries such as Tunisia, Italy, Mexico, and the Philippines.
The downgrade came swiftly on the heels of Trump's inauguration, which happened on January 20 -- but the report says that the new president is not solely to blame.
The EIU states that the downgrade occurred due to an "erosion of trust in government and elected officials" in America, as a whole. This is reflected by various other reliable sources and surveys, all of which indicate that the American public's confidence in their government has hit an all-time, historical low. In this way, Donald Trump is not the cause of democratic decline, but simply the heir of it.
U.S. President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One on Feb. 6, 2017 upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
It should also be noted that the U.S. is not alone in this phenomenon. The EIU has described 2016 as a year of popular revolt against political elites on an international scale. It pointed to the Brexit referendum as another illustration of such political and social unrest, along with a number of other examples.
However, America's decline seems to be the most disquieting of them all. At this point, there are only a handful of "full democracies" left in the world: 19 in total, with less than nine per cent of the world's population inhabiting them.
The G-Zero world that political scientists like Ian Bremmer have long warned about, is now here. This world, quite simply, lacks any real, defined global leadership.
With the decline of Pax Americana, which more or less provided the world with economic and political stability for seven decades following the Second World War, our global community has suddenly become a rather uncertain place. America has lost its international credibility. The economic rise of China, along with the apparent military resurgence of Russia, means that there will be new contenders for international control.
A power struggle of global proportions is sure to ensue.
The Trump administration will have a key role in dictating how our currently unstable global future will ultimately play out.
The established world order is unravelling -- and turmoil and unrest will inevitably follow.
How we, the citizens of the world, will experience this potentially tumultuous time will largely be determined by our governments. The Trump administration will have a key role in dictating how our currently unstable global future will ultimately play out.
This is particularly worrisome when we consider how ill-prepared Trump appears to be for his new role as president.
With no experience in politics, Trump must rely on those around him to advise him in many matters moving forward. However, as he assembles his cabinet, we are beginning to realize that he has gathered a group of perhaps equally inexperienced and polarizing individuals to help him. This is concerning.
Even more concerning is the fact that experienced government officials, whom Trump should be able to rely on, are resigning from his administration at a mind-boggling pace. Last week, the entire senior level of management officials at the State Department walked out, signalling their staunch refusal to work for Trump. Meanwhile, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto unilaterally cancelled a meeting with Trump on short notice, citing renewed tensions as the reason for doing so.
In order for a government to govern successfully, it must hold the confidence of the governed. It must also hold the respect of the international community.
At this point, the Trump administration holds neither.
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