With the United States Supreme Court allowing individual states to choke voting rights into bare consciousness, that country is accelerating its democratic decline. That matters for every democracy including ours.
Closer to home, Samoa’s democracy is rapidly downgrading, with self-entitled elites actively sustaining their reign. Three by-elections now will decide its fate.
Every year for the past 15 years according to Freedom House, far more countries have had declines in political rights than have seen gains. But 2016-2020 was the first five year period since 1974 when more countries abandoned democracy than got it: 12 up, 7 down. See: Wikipedia Democracy Index.Also: www.freedomhouse.org
The lights are dimming in Brazil, India, Mexico and Poland. Tyrants killed civil rights off near-completely in Hungary, the Philippines, Turkey, and Venezuela. Hong Kong democracy has been crushed through Chinese CCP tyranny. Georgia now barely has a rule of law with the Georgian Dream Party. Myanmar’s military just shot, killed and imprisoned any elected leader at all.
El Salvador’s just had an executive coup. Peru’s democracy is gearing for civic breakdown as the hard right and hard left face off with a wafer-thin majority.
As journalist and historian Anne Applebaum has observed, fictitious claims of fraud and “stop the steal” fanatics are now common means for autocratic populists to obstruct democratic results.
The campaign waged by the US Republicans and their President Trump was a powerful global signal: corrode and destroy the power of the media, public sector and the citizen to limit their rule.
Australia and New Zealand are now two of the last strong democracies left in the Southern Hemisphere. We must call out the US democratic corrosion, because democracy better than any other system provides absolute and contestable proof that citizens alone assent to the power wielded over them.
Whether your voting preference is towards stability, change, collectivity, individuality, wealth dispersal or centralization, a well-functioning democratic process is what enables you to have that same preference enacted.
Trump and his Republicans and Republican-aligned media have fast degraded its standing. Recovery is less than likely now. Yet no other country so actively promoted democracy worldwide as the US did since WW2, then since African postcolonialism, then since the fall of the Soviet bloc – so when they decline fast that decline matters to the whole democratic world.
If the remaining strong democracies such as New Zealand don’t actively speak into the mainstream media to support pro-democratic forces in the United States and Samoa and elsewhere, our foundational democratic ideals will become a rare, lonely, and wasted tragedy of virtuous civic leadership. If not us, who? If not now, when?
When we don’t use our pro-democratic voice, others lose it even faster.