Is Democracy in Decline?

Many scholars are claiming that democracy worldwide is in decline and that the U.S. is presently making matters worse by, for example, neglecting allies, befriending dictators and embracing nativist politics.  I believe that this view is unfair to the current administration.

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But first of all let’s look at the facts.  Freedom House is the best source.  According to the latest information from FH (see chart) democracy has greatly expanded around the world in the past thirty years, is currently in very good shape, and has had only a few setbacks in recent years.

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But let’s look at several hot spots around the world in terms of how the Trump Administration is responding to the challenges.  For example:

  • China is a threat to democracy because it is big and powerful and is throwing its weight around by engaging in unfair trading practices with many other nations. President Trump is the first U.S. President to attack this problem head on and is making much progress in forcing China to play by internationally accepted rules of trade.
  • Venezuela is a failed state and the U.S. is slowly tightening the screws to try to force regime change so that democratic elements in Venezuela can begin the hard work of restoring the economy. The U.S. has not intervened militarily as has Russia and Cuba but rather is working with other democracies to bring about positive change.
  • Iran is feeling the heat from the new U.S. sanctions which are gradually being tightened. The problem is that the 2015 JCPA sunsets in 2030 and the U.S. now rightly insists that Iran give up nuclear weapons permanently. The U.S. stands ready to begin renegotiations with Iran at any time.
  • North Korea signed an agreement with the U.S. to permanently denuclearize the Korean peninsula. The U.S. insists that major progress must be made in denuclearization before any sanctions will be lifted.  Hopefully North Korea will eventually decide that President Trump means what he says and start to fulfill its part of the bargain.
  • The U.S. southern border. The flood of immigrants from Central America is causing a crisis on the border.  Both sides are digging in and so this crisis most likely will not be resolved until after the 2020 Presidential election.  What is needed is comprehensive immigration reform so that illegal immigrants somehow become legal guest workers.

Summary.  The U.S. is actively working with many other countries around the world to resolve complicated international problems.  This is democracy in action and the U.S. is leading the way.

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