(Kiana) #1
Democracy Demotion

July/August 2019 19

Pessimism about the state o” Ameri-
can democracy has been compounded
by economic malaise. Americans were
shaken by the 2008 Ãnancial crisis, which
nearly plunged the world into a depres-
sion. Economic inequality, already worse
in the United States than in other
advanced democracies, is rising. And the
American dream has taken a huge hit:
only hal” the children born in the 1980s
are earning more than their parents
did at their age, whereas when those born
in 1940 were around age 30, 92 percent
o” them earned more than their par-
ents did at their age. Americans have
been losing conÃdence in their own
futures, their country’s future, and the
ability o” their political leaders to do
anything about it.
A sense that the United States is
in decline pervades—and not just
among Americans. The United States’
global standing took a nosedive follow-
ing President Donald Trump’s inaugu-

agreed that democracy promotion should
be a top foreign policy priority, according
to a poll by the Pew Research Center.
That number fell to 18 percent in 2013
and 17 percent in 2018. According to a
2018 survey by Freedom House, the
George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn
Biden Center, seven in ten Americans still
favored U.S. eorts to promote democ-
racy and human rights, but most Ameri-
cans also expressed wariness o• foreign
interventions that might drain U.S.
resources, as those in Vietnam and Iraq did.
More important, Americans expressed
preoccupation with the sorry state o”
their own democracy, which two-thirds
agreed was “getting weaker.” Those
surveyed conveyed worry about problems
in their society—with big money in
politics, racism, and gridlock topping the
list. In fact, hal” o” those surveyed
said they believed that the United States
was in “real danger oÊ becoming a
nondemocratic, authoritarian country.”


/ AP

Mission accomplished: after voting in the Iraqi parliamentary elections in December 2005
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