Is the United States a failed state?

The United States is obviously in turmoil today. We have protests around the country, federal troops attacking American citizens on the street who were protesting indiscriminately, thugs who are coming into Black Lives Matter protests because they see an opportunity to cause mayhem, and more. This is all you can see on the news today. We have a President who is in denial of the epidemic which is ravaging our country as over 160,000 Americans have died from disease. In response to 2977 victims dying on September 11, 2001 we saw massive powers expanded to the Federal government which neither targeted the terrorists who actually attacked Americans, in fact they targeted everyone else (there will be another blog post about that Fascist legislation later). The issue with the pandemic is that there is no group of people which we can easily target to try to assuage fears, and there is no quick and easy solution which we can do which will calm the totalitarian tendencies of the right wing in the face of this tragedy. The only thing we can do is buckle down, fund the hell out of our scientific research to find a cure, and try to limit its spread through social distancing until it has either run out of fuel or we have a vaccine. It is very obvious at this point that we can only wait for a vaccine since the virus has been able to spread.

Does this make the United States a failed state? That becomes a very complex question, and since most Americans have never been to a developing or undeveloped country where they have mingled with the locals even once in their lives, it will be very hard for most Americans to have a clear perspective of what this means. Going to a resort in Mexico doesn’t count.

Fortunately, there are multiple indexes which measure this concept. I am look at three of  them to understand where we stand among all nations. I am going to use the Failed States Index, Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, and Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit to try to get a wider perspective.

Failed States Index

When we look at the details on America’s failed states index we do fairly well on almost all indicators. In fact, we have improved on almost every metric except 3. Those three are factionalized elites, group grievance, and security apparatus. This has to do with several factors. The first is how people are finally waking up to the decades where police brutality has targeted people of color, and no one has done anything about this. The answer to  this is to end police brutality and increase the opportunity which impoverished communities have to have a place in the prosperity of the United States today. Another major factor is the absolute lack of accurate information which a large percentage of America is getting from Fox News and other far right sources. I have no easy answers on how to wean people off of this garbage media, and help people start to watch a wide variety of sources, and learn how to ask questions to determine the validity of one source over another.

A professionalization and defunding of American police forces will help with security apparatus and factionalized elites, as so many minority led non-profits are fighting for right now. The easiest thing to do is to eliminate all advanced weaponry in the hands of police forces.

In regards to the Corruption Perceptions Index the United States currently ranks 23 in the world (for the 2019 report, 2020 isn’t out yet) right next to France.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit the United States does worst on functioning of government in 2019. Factors for this have included the following:

  • The unwillingness of the Republican Party to negotiate with President Obama during the last 6 years of his Presidency.
  • Having only two major parties as a consequence of First Past the Post breeds dysfunction.
  • Increasing political partisanship.
  • Donald Trump has been unwilling to negotiate in any way, and has called the independence of America’s judicial system into question.

It is obvious to me that removing Donald Trump from office needs to happen, and if we don’t he will continue to undermine our democracy, but we need to do more than that, particularly in regards to police brutality. These two issues are the biggest threats to our democracy today.

Implementing ranked voting will allow a more diverse political spectrum which will bring in more issues to our discussion. It will allow parties which have real grievances (such as with our police) to have a voice in government and be more likely to pass the reforms which are needed to have a more just, democratic society, and to save lives.

Democracy Index 2019

Looking at the United States today, no, we are not a failed state. But that being said we have several major issues which stand out on a global scale which need to be addressed as soon as we can. I believe we can do that. Here are the basic things you can do:

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote
  2. Get connected to your local Black Lives Matter chapter
  3. Get involved with FairVote
  4. Diversify your news sources.
  5. Make sure you understand basic statistics and Calculus so you can interpret the news.

Together we can make a more perfect union and address systemic issues which plague our country.

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