Archived Opinion

You’ll need to know this word — anocracy

You’ll need to know this word — anocracy

To the Editor: A word most of us are unfamiliar with but will become commonplace in the months and years to come is anocracy — or semi-democracy — a form of government that is loosely defined as part democracy and part dictatorship, or as a regime that mixes democratic with autocratic features.

The Center for Systemic Peace has downgraded the United States of America’s system of government from a democracy to an anocracy. I invite the reader to confirm this on the CSP website.

The United States dropped below the “democracy threshold” (+6) on the polity scale in 2020 and is now considered an anocracy (+5). In the process the United States also lost its designation as the world’s oldest, continuous democracy; that designation now belongs to Switzerland (171 years), followed by New Zealand (142 years), and the United Kingdom (139 years). The CSP adds that further degradation of democratic authority will trigger an “Adverse Regime Change event.” It is significantly important that Americans understand that this downgrade can be explicitly tied to the Trump administration’s activities during and since his term in office.

This analysis also places the United States at “high risk of impending instability (i.e., adverse regime change and/or onset of political violence)” and designates “the ongoing efforts of the USA executive to circumvent electoral outcomes and subvert democratic processes as an ‘attempted (presidential) coup.’”

It appears the American experiment has run its course as a full-fledged democracy. Approximately two and one-half centuries is quite a stretch, but our era ended January 20th, 2017, the moment Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Prior to that date, any theory proclaiming the United States would backslide this far would have been regarded as unimaginable, beyond comprehension. In retrospect it doesn’t require the skill of a brain surgeon to trace the cause of our collapse to the exact source.

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The reason for our downfall isn’t rocket science and neither is the remedy. We all learned in school what democracy means; a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We need not devise a foolproof plan to restore democracy in America, it’s been done: by Plato, “The strength of democracy is judged by the quality of its services rendered by its citizens;” also by Louis Pasteur, “The true democracy is that which permits each individual to put forth his maximum effort;” and by J.R. Lowell, “Democracy is that form of society, no matter what its political classification, in which every man (or woman) has a chance and knows it;” and Harry Fosdick, “Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”

There is just one element missing, and this factor is entirely up to us. There was a well-known Italian patriot and revolutionary who lived in Lincoln’s time. His name was Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) and his belief was that “democracy is the progress of all, through all, under the leadership of the wisest and the best.” It’s choice, not chance, that will determine our destiny; our lives are made up of the choices we make, and so it is with nations.  We will survive or be destroyed by the people we elect to lead us. What else do we need to know?

David L. Snell 


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