The Coronavirus Is Killing Democracy

This is an excellent editorial from The Bulwark. Worthy of a full read if you follow the link. But here is the start to it

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a blow to American exceptionalism. In all the worst ways—number of deaths, incoherence of government response, international irrelevance—the United States has exceeded both its allies and rivals. In the degradation of the institutions of free society and good government, America has found itself succumbing to tragic international trends. For the past 14 years, democracy around the world has been in decline, including in the United States, which has seen its score slip by more than 7 percent since 2013. A new report by Freedom House shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the global trend. Not letting a serious crisis go to waste, leaders on every continent are grasping their power more tightly.

Around the world, from Sri Lanka to Turkey and from Hungary to Bolivia, rulers have been taking advantage of the pandemic to erode political rights and postpone elections. This is not only objectionable on its own merits. According to the report, these measures are also diminishing confidence in governments, which makes containing the pandemic even more difficult. Among the study’s respondents, 62 percent said that “they distrust what they are hearing about the pandemic from [their country’s] national government.” Naturally, this lack of confidence is higher in less free countries, though a majority of Americans also distrust what the president says about a possible COVID-19 vaccine.

The spread of disinformation has not helped, either. Deliberately misleading information sometimes originates in the confusion of social media crowds, but it also often comes from government officials. A Polish respondent complained that Polish official are “making unfounded statements not based on actual data.” This is similar to the trends in the United States, where politicians are misleading the public in response to pressure from their constituents to be misled.

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