The True Color of Democracy

In the modern era, only one group of Americans has stood in the way of America’s slide to autocratic rule, and for policies that continue to benefit every citizen, bar none. So far, they are holding.

Anthony Fieldman

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Stark colors. Image: New York Times 2020

More than any other graphic I’ve seen produced during this election cycle, the one above, in particular, stood out for the glaring truth that it laid bare about ourselves, as Americans. It illustrates that if not for African Americans, the United States would be at risk of losing the qualifications that make it a modern democracy, by international standards.

That is to say, by neutral third parties.

“What the hell am I talking about?”

Democracy and the World

The Democracy Index is compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) — a UK-based company. It measures the state of democracy in 167 countries — the vast majority. 75 of the nations on its list are classified as either full or flawed democracies, while the rest are labeled either hybrid democratic-authoritarian regimes, or fully authoritarian ones.

True democracies are widely understood — not just by the EIU, but by most international judiciary, human rights, advocacy and peace-keeping organizations, as well — to stipulate the precondition of certain embodied principles, in order to be considered one. EIU defines these as thriving levels of representational pluralism, civil liberties, fundamental political freedoms, political participation, an independent judiciary, and a diverse and independent media. Only 22 nations on its list qualify as full democracies, while 53 are considered flawed — or partial — ones.

Dominating the top eight spots are all five Scandinavian countries, plus Ireland, New Zealand and Canada. All of them embody the most robust forms of representational government, national investment in programs that support and uplift citizens, and civil liberties. In other words, these governments endow and empower their people with the things that will guarantee their shared prosperity.

The United States of America ranks 25th on the list, just behind Japan and South Korea, and just ahead of…

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Anthony Fieldman

Architect | Photographer | Writer | Philosopher | Polyglot | Windmill Jouster | Nomade Civilisée