Our Rankings in the Global Democracy Index
Guess which country is not listed as the top 5 democracies in the world?
Or the top 10….
And not even the top 20?
The United States of America comes in at an underwhelming #25, and is recognized on the international stage as a flawed democracy.
America’s diminished standing, from a full democracy to a flawed democracy, was made official in 2016. But our ranking in the Global Democracy Index has been on a steady decline that was (at least) decades in the making. The late 1960's marks the definitive shift, when America started to 'rot' politically, we introduced a panoply of policy failings that have eroded public trust in government institutions. It was at that point that corporate dollars were allowed to infiltrate our politics, and turn our government into the mutant institution it is today. And it’s concerning that America, the purported “leader of the free world”, is struggling to preserve its democratic foundation.
And while our rankings in these global metrics have to do with much larger systemic issues than a single administration can bear responsibility for, it is time to pull our heads out of our own navels for long enough to acknowledge that there are other flourishing democracies outside the U.S. that do not resort to partisan politics and have exceeded us in some pretty critical areas.
In fact, we rank below every first world country in some pretty key metrics, and lower than many third world countries in too many others. So it’s painfully arrogant to think we have nothing to learn.
The Top Democracy in the World
So who does, in fact, hold the gold medal for the best democracy in the world?
You guessed it. Norway. And not only does it clock in at number one in the Democracy Index, it also holds the gold in these other notable, international rankings:
Highest Human Development Index ranking in the world (for over a decade)
First on the World Happiness Report,
First in the OECD Better Life Index,
First on the Index of Public Integrity
Norway’s doing something right.
Its values are rooted in egalitarian ideals, based in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Norway has the fourth highest per-capita income in the world based on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports. And that does not preclude them from having a welfare model, universal healthcare, a comprehensive social security system, and the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, with a value of US $1 trillion.
Keep in mind this is the number one democracy in the world. So it’s safe to conclude that partisan politicians and pundits are incorrect in equating egalitarian ideals, universal healthcare, and a comprehensive social security system as "communist", "socialist", or "the decline of democracy."
Norway also happens to be the founding member of the U.N. So I don't think it's too brazen to suggest that the leader of the United States learn a thing or two from the pioneer of the United Nations.
The number one barrier to success is arrogance. And arrogance is a product of insecurity and ignorance. And before we, as Americans, fall for false dichotomies and partisan politics, it's important to understand what democracy and capitalism even mean. People continue to throw around words and nonsensical one liners that make for poor discussion and terrible decisions. So let's acknowledge we have a problem. And let's resolve to be better.
"Nothing so obstinately stands in the way of all sorts of progress as pride of opinion. While nothing is so foolish and baseless." -J.G. Holland