U.S. Listed As a ‘Backsliding’ Democracy for First Time in Report by European Think Tank

Washington Post via MSN: “The United States for the first time was added to a list of “backsliding democracies” in a report released Monday by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. “’The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,’ the International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy 2021 report said.”

German News Channel DW: ‘Why Are Autocrats Popular – Assault on Democracy’

DW: “A wave of authoritarianism is churning from East to West and assailing civil society. Autocrats are threatening democracy, while their regimes portray NGOs as Trojan horses for foreign interference.

“The resurgence of authoritarianism is impacting countries across the globe, no matter what their form of government. “In the Crosshairs of the State” documents this worldwide phenomenon using the examples of India, Russia, and Poland and shows how civil society is being repressed, and what impact this can have on the future of democracy. When populists and autocrats wield power, the first victims are civil liberties. However, regimes aren’t stopping at attacking and imprisoning activists – they go as far as criminalizing entire groups and freezing their funds. These governments are increasingly targeting NGOs and other players in civil society that demand democracy and assert human rights or protest about social grievances and environmental destruction. The methods of choice are defamation campaigns, repression, and criminalization. In the past few years, certain countries have passed over 60 laws specifically aiming to systematically impede NGOs’ work or completely put an end to it. The root causes are wide-ranging, but it all boils down to rulers’ desire to remain in power and protect their economic interests. Beyond authoritarian wielders of power, democratic governments are increasingly clamping down on independent and critical players, too. Are we experiencing a full-on global assault on civil society? What happens when the driving force of democracy – the people themselves – is silenced? How can we counter this development? Film director Sebastian Weis investigates these question, relating the situations in India, Russia, and Poland chapter by chapter, with each country representing an overarching issue. India faces environmental destruction, Russians are seeing human rights be eroded, and in Poland women’s rights are under attack.”

The ‘Liberal Media’ Is at Again

Rebbeca Solnit at The Guardian: “Pretty much anything that happens to the Democrats is a sign that they’re weak and losing and should be worried, according to the storylines into which mainstream media tends to stuff news. Pretty much nothing, including losing, seems to signify that the Republicans are losers. In so habitually and apparently unconsciously fitting a wide array of new and varied facts into familiar old frameworks, the media shape the political landscape at least as much as they report on it.

“It’s in the language. The New York Times editorial board thunders that ‘Democrats deny political reality at their own peril’ and then insists that this election in which a moderate lost is a sign that the party needs to get more moderate. Bloomberg News found a way to make a victory sound like defeat: ‘Phil Murphy clung on to win a second term as New Jersey’s governor, surviving by a narrow margin.’ It was about the same margin by which a Republican won the Virginia governorship, but the language around that was apocalyptic (though Virginia usually elects a governor who’s in the other party than the president, and New Jersey – which not long ago gave Republican Chris Christie two terms – re-elected its first Democratic governor in decades on Tuesday)…

“As for this week’s election, it swept in a lot of progressive mayors of color. The most prominent was Michelle Wu, who won the Boston mayor’s seat as the first woman and first person of color. Elaine O’Neal will become Durham, North Carolina’s, first Black woman mayor, and Abdullah Hammoud will become Dearborn’s first Muslim and Arab American mayor. Aftab Pureval will become Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor. Pittsburgh elected its first Black mayor, and so did Kansas City, Kansas. Cleveland’s new mayor is also Black. New York City elected its second Black Democratic mayor, and Shahana Hanif became the first Muslim woman elected to the city council (incidentally, New York City and Virginia have about the same population). In Seattle, a moderate defeated a progressive, which you could also phrase as a Black and Asian American man defeated a Latina. A lot of queer and trans people won elections, or in the case of Virginia’s Danica Roem, the first out trans person to win a seat in a state legislature, won reelection.”