“If you’re not outraged,” the saying goes, “you’re not paying attention.” This trite maxim seems to have become a chief metric for measuring America’s democratic bona fides, and it’s leading to some ludicrous conclusions.
Every year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) performs what we can only hope is an exhaustive review of the political conditions on every nation on Earth to produce its vaunted “Democracy Index.” The results of their 2017 survey are disheartening. As COMMENTARY’s Sohrab Ahmari chronicled, the rise of illiberal movements around the world has tracked with a crisis of confidence in the Western model of democratic capitalism, and that trend has not reversed itself. The EIU’s study found a precipitous decline in the number of people living in what it determined to be fully functioning democracies. Most of that decline is, however, attributable to the downgraded status of the United States. That’s right; America is no longer the beacon of democracy it once was.