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Index of the state of democracy

A View From the Edge

The CIA and other government agencies keep track of the levels of democratic solidity around the world. Several American agencies and non-partisan think tanks also keep track of the state of US democracy, state by state as well. These agencies and think tanks measure these indexes to advise people and industry on development, investment and national and international security.

First some facts: 72% of the world’s democracies were established after 1975. This period is called the third wave of democracy and has, in the largest part, been led by American efforts to promote individual rights under democratic rule around the world. In short, America has previously been the successful example for other countries to follow. Additionally, non-democracies have declined since 1975 by 60%, and hybrid-democracies (like Albania or Ukraine) grew by 20% and are likely to continue reforms and become full democracies – unless the trend is reversed, if America is no longer the shining example to follow.

The stability of these fully fledged democracies is carefully monitored by observing elections, the non-biased application of the rule of law and, never least, internal strife. Never before in the past 100 years has America ever appeared on a “watch” list. Now we have internal strike, political riots, internal terrorism, corrupt judges breaking sworn testimony, and large portions of the populace questioning elections’ integrity. It doesn’t matter if election deniers are wrong or lying – it is the political instability fallout that changes the index the country is measured by. We are now on several watch lists.

Remember, industry and banks, and global enterprises use these indexes to strategically plan for a capitalist and democratic and fair future for their endeavors. Democracies generally outperform hybrid regimes and non-democracies on all the elements at the core of a stable democracy. Investors watch a framework that incorporates a broader range of democratic characteristics such as Basic Welfare, Access to Justice, Gender Equality, Social Group Equality and Absence of Corruption, which link to social, human and economic development – which all link to prosperity. Prosperity in the capitalist world means more profit, a stable consumer base, and secure investment legality and cooperation.

Now, even worse, when you start to drill down on the national index to look at the individual states’ democracy index, there are trends which are undermining the stability of the nation. Looking at the last 20 years, states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and other so-called “red” states have reduced their democracy index by 10-15%. Others, like New York, California, Delaware, and New Mexico have increased theirs by the same degree. By and large, half the states of the union have fluctuated a bit over the past 20 years, but suddenly overall the trend in local elections is for more non-democratic policies and restrictions to be either enacted or officials elected who are determined to undermine the rule of election laws. And this election cycle has not yet been measured. Considering that 30% of all election officials nationwide have either resigned or chose not to be reelected since 2020 because of threats and viral media attacks from election deniers, there is little doubt the USA Index of the State of Democracy will reflect another downward trend.

How to stop this trend? Make sure our elections are constitutionally safe and secure.


Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.

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