(March 3) Policymakers throughout the Unites States must rally to reverse a slide away from responsible freedom that for 15 years has plagued this nation and most of the world.

In its annual “Freedom of the World” report, the respected nonprofit group Freedom House this week said that 2020 continued a worldwide and U.S. trend whereby levels of liberty have declined each year during that time. Abuses by China particularly harmed global freedom, which also was harmed by the retrenchment of populous India from “free” to “partly free” status. And the U.S., ominously, dropped from an overall score of 86 (out of 100) to 83. In 2010, the U.S. score was 94.

Let’s start at home. The continued U.S. decline was driven, among other factors, by worsening levels of governmental transparency, by former President Donald Trump’s “abrupt dismissal” of numerous inspectors general who were documenting malfeasance, and by a “dramatic increase in arrests of and physical assaults on journalists across the country.” Oddly, Freedom House did not reduce the sub-scores for the U.S. on either religious liberty or academic freedom, despite reporting numerous warning signs involving politicization and a “hostile environment” against some viewpoints and speakers. In contrast, the organization described no trends in the other direction, toward greater liberty.

Without the U.S. leading in the right direction, the rest of the world continues to deteriorate.

“In 2020, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny,” says the report. “The countries experiencing deterioration outnumbered those with improvements by the largest margin recorded since the negative trend began in 2006. The long democratic recession is deepening.”

And: “Nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deterioration last year.” And: “The proportion of Not Free countries is now the highest it has been in the past 15 years.”

Meanwhile, as Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and others have been warning, the largest threat to world freedom is probably Communist China…..

[The full column is here.]


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