Brown Bag: Dr. Jonathan (Vanya) Krieckhaus

Dr. Jonathan (Vanya) Krieckhaus
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Middlebush 212

Is the USA a democracy?  Even if Polity says "No"?

The primary measure of democracy used in quantitative international relations, as well as much of comparative politics, is the Polity index of democracy, ranging from +10 to -10.  By early 2021 the Polity coders put up on their website a dramatic development, which is that after decades of +10, the US suffered successive downgrades from 2016 to 2020, to a final score of +5, which demotes the United States into an "anocracy". (Anocracy is defined as any system that combines features of democracy and authoritarianism, meaning Polity scores between +5 and -5.) Other major cross national indices of democracy also downgraded the United States in their quantitative scores of democracy.

How do we understand these significant coding decisions?  This talk will: 1) introduce the major democracy indices and show the current values for the United States compared to other countries; 2) trace the logic by which Polity downgraded the US, in which they focus on the Trump administration's actions; 3) examine parallels between the falling US Polity score and recent falling democracy scores in other countries; 4) provide thoughts on how the nation (and this conversation) can restore a +10 to the USA, and 5) provide plenty of time for open conversation throughout the audience.  Overall, my goal is introduce the conclusion of most major democracies indices, which is that partisan polarization has become so severe as to constitute a noticeable erosion of the US democratic regime itself.

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