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Democracy In U.S. Weakened Over Years, Says Freedom House

The greatest danger comes from the fact that American democracy is not infinitely durable.

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Donald Trump
Trump supporter holds a T-shirt reading "You Are Fake News" before a rally by President Donald Trump in Rochester, Minnesota, Oct. 4, 2018. Freedom House says that democracy in the U.S. weakened significantly and blames U.S. President Donald Trump for "ongoing attacks." (Representational image). VOA

Freedom House says that democracy in the United States has weakened significantly in recent years and blames U.S. President Donald Trump for “ongoing attacks on the rule of law, fact-based journalism, and other principles and norms of democracy.”

The U.S.-based nongovernmental group warned in its annual report on democracy that it has seen similar patterns in other nations where democracy was ultimately overtaken by authoritarianism.

“The greatest danger comes from the fact that American democracy is not infinitely durable, especially if a president shows little respect for its tenets,” said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.

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The U.S.-based nongovernmental group warned in its annual report on democracy that it has seen similar patterns in other nations where democracy was ultimately overtaken by authoritarianism. VOA

While the group said the freedom rating for the United States shows that the country is still a robust democracy by global standards, it says its democracy has weakened significantly. It says the current U.S. score puts American democracy on a level with Greece, Croatia and Mongolia, well below other long-standing democracies such as Germany, France and Britain.

Around the world, Freedom House said that 68 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties during 2018, with only 50 registering gains. It said this marked the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

The report noted two countries with dramatic declines in 2018 – Hungary and Nicaragua. Hungary fell from “Free” status to “Partly Free” status as Prime Minister Viktor Orban “presided over the most dramatic decline ever charted by Freedom House within the European Union.” Nicaragua dropped to “Not Free” status amid “a ferocious crackdown on a nationwide anti-government protest movement.”

The report also spotlighted several other countries for declines, including China, where over a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and Hui were forced into reeducation centers, and Cameroon, where President Paul Biya extended his more than three decades in office through “deeply flawed elections.”

Donald Trump
Freedom House says that democracy in the United States has weakened significantly in recent years and blames U.S. President Donald Trump for “ongoing attacks on the rule of law, fact-based journalism, and other principles and norms of democracy.” VOA

Of the 195 countries assessed, 86 (44 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 50 (26 percent) Not Free.

The countries that received the worst freedom rating in the report were Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea. Those who received the best scores were Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping Shake Hands, Dispute Between The Two Countries Tends To Resolve

Freedom House said the countries that made notable positive changes in their freedom rating in 2018 included Armenia, Ethiopia and Iraq.

It said Armenia made a breakthrough with the victory of “reform-minded” leader Nikol Pashinyan in snap elections, and said in Ethiopia the ruling party installed a reformist prime minister who lifted a state of emergency and released political prisoners. In Iraq, Freedom House said that despite allegations of fraud, the country underwent a peaceful transfer of power following competitive parliamentary elections. (VOA)

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We Got Trump Elected, Shouldn’t Stop Him in 2020; Says Facebook Executive

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day

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FILE - President Donald Trump departs after speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House July 17, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth has claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump’s reelection in 2020.

Was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?

“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook’s hardware group.

“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.

“They weren’t running misinformation or hoaxes. They weren’t micro-targeting or saying different things to different people. They just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each persona.

He continued: “I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result. So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment”.

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Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump. Wikimedia Commons

“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial (Galadriel) and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he wrote.

“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”

“To be clear, I’m no fan of Trump. I donated the max to Hillary,” he tried to clarify his stand.

Bosworth said that it is worth reminding everyone that Russian interference was real but it was mostly not done through advertising.

Also Read: Scientists Develop New Method to Detect Oxygen on Exoplanet Atmospheres

“$100,000 in ads on Facebook can be a powerful tool but it can’t buy you an American election, especially when the candidates themselves are putting up several orders of magnitude more money on the same platform (not to mention other platforms),” he wrote.

Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day.

“Misinformation was also real and related but not the same as Russian interference,” Bosworth mentioned, admitting that Cambridge Analytica was one of the more acute cases where the details were almost all wrong. (IANS)