According the Democracy Index we are no longer a Full Democracy. Flawed Democracy is one of four regime categories. Out of 167 countries ranked in the index we are 25th best. Norway is at the top of the list and North Korea is at the bottom. The categories are Full Democracy, Flawed Democracy, Hybrid regimes and Authoritarian regimes.
The index is compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (the research and analysis division of Economist Group providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, such as monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, country risk service reports, and industry reports.) The report is widely cited in the international press as well as in peer reviewed academic journals.
A Flawed Democracy is defined as (according to Wikipedia) is a governing system in which although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties; thus it is not an “open society”. There are many countries “that are categorized as neither ‘free’ nor ‘not free’, but as ‘probably free’, falling somewhere between democratic and nondemocratic regimes”. This may be because a constitution limiting government power exists, but those in power ignore its liberties, or because an adequate legal constitutional framework of liberties does not exist.
Many fear that we continue to decline on the Democracy Index. The next regime category below Flawed Democracy is labeled as Hybrid Regimes. It is noteworthy to observe the definition of this type of government, note its flaws, and ask if we are headed in that direction. Hybrid regimes are nations with regular electoral frauds, preventing them from being fair and free democracies. These nations commonly have governments that apply pressure on political opposition, non-independent judiciaries, widespread corruption, harassment and pressure placed on the media, anemic rule of law, and more pronounced faults than flawed democracies in the realms of underdeveloped political culture, low levels of participation in politics, and issues in the functioning of governance.
As we look around us in 2020, it is fair to ask if we are continuing a slide toward a Hybrid regime. Our Constitution provides an opportunity for appropriate checks and balances that can move us back to a Full Democracy. Part of that opportunity lies in Article V. Article V has been on moth balls for a half century. It may be time to set aside hyper-polarization and look past the media’s obsession with the latest bright shiny object.
Our future as a country is likely to depend on thoughtful non-partisan action by forward-looking concerned individuals.