The United States no longer qualifies as a full democracy, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a research firm based in London. Over the past year, the U.S. fell from an 8.5 to a 7.9 on the index measuring the country’s democratic tendencies. As Donald Trump enters the White House, the U.S. joins the likes of Japan, Italy, South Korea and India on the index, all countries embroiled in extended periods of political turmoil.
The EIU calculates its democracy index based on scores in five categories, electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. The Economist report, titled “The Revenge of the Deplorables,” found that public confidence in the U.S. government has fallen to historic lows, triggering the falling democracy index. A “flawed democracy” is described as “a country with free elections but weighed down by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.”
“The U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped below 8.00,” the report, cited by CNBC, says.
This isn’t the first time American democracy has been called into question by academic studies. Last year, a Princeton University study found that the United States was functioning more like an oligarchy than a democracy. Oligarchies are governments run by a small group of economic elites, rather than through rule by majority. That report mirrored the message championed by Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign, who loudly advocated for reversing political influence away from wealthiest 1 percent.
The super rich, making up the top 0.01 percent of Americans, accounted for 40 percent of all political contributions in the last presidential election cycle, according to Mother Jones.
Mr. Trump’s presidency is part and parcel to widespread distrust in American government, and with the lowest approval rating of any incoming U.S. president. That trust figure isn’t likely to improve until respectable politicians are returned to the White House and Congress. Thinking of running for office? Now might be a good time to get started.