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For the second year in a row, U.S. called a ‘flawed democracy’

For the second year in a row, U.S. called a ‘flawed democracy’
REUTERS/Jim Bourg
The U.S. and Italy — with identical scores of 7.98 — were tied for 21st place among the nations of the world.

For the second consecutive year the United States ranks as a “flawed democracy” according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which annually ranks the health of democracy in nations around the world. The U.S. tied with Italy and trails just behind South Korea in the EIU’s ranking.

The U.S. and Italy — with identical scores of 7.98 — were tied for 21st place among the nations of the world. The cutoff for being ranked as a “full democracy” was a score of 8.00. Twenty nations, mostly European with Scandinavian countries dominating the top of the rankings, made the cut.

The top five, in order, were Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark, all with scores well above 9. Unfortunately (if you like democracy), the 19 “full democracies” put together constitute less than five percent of the world’s population.

In the history of these rankings, before last year, the EIU had always included our nation on the list of “full democracies.” As I wrote last year when the U.S. first fell off the “full democracy” list, the decline in our ranking is not fundamentally about the current occupant of the White House. It seems important to clarify that.

Lack of social cohesion

The U.S. scores, which used to be much higher, have been declining since 2006. The chief problem with U.S. democracy, as the EIU scores it, has been a decline in what it calls “social cohesion,” which has been diminishing for years, in part because of the increase in what is often called “polarization,” across partisan and political lines. As the EIU scores democracies, our poor cohesion led to low scores for “Functioning of government: 7.14” and “Political participation: 7.22.”

As I’ve often mentioned, the United States ranks horribly against other democracies for voter turnout, which in an important factor in our poor “participation” number. But the low score for “functioning of government,” which obviously did the most damage to our overall number, reflects the fact that even with one party controlling almost all the levers of government, America borders on unable to enact legislation.

The EIU’s writeup on our democracy said various kinds of polarization, social, political, economic and otherwise, undermine our exercise in self-governance, adding that, “If Mr. Trump is unable to reverse the trend towards increasing social polarization, U.S. democracy will be at greater risk of further deterioration.”

You would need a membership and a password to see the full report. But Business Insider lists the top 21 finishers, and their scores, here.

If it makes you feel any better, almost half the nations of the world (45 percent) ranked as “flawed democracies,” and the U.S./Italy score made them the highest ranked among the flawed.

More than half of all countries (89 out 167) saw their scores decline from the previous year, and only 27 improved their scores.

At the bottom of the spectrum were 52 nations, home to a combined 34 percent of the world’s people, which were as rated “authoritarian” nations.

The worst overall score in the world (1.08) was given to North Korea, ranked 167th and by a wide margin. The others in the bottom five were: 163: Democratic Republic of Congo; 164: Central African Republic; 165: Chad; and 166: Syria.

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Comments (67)

I wonder if I'm the only one

I wonder if I'm the only one that noticed the combined population of the top democracies don't total much more than the population of New York City, or that they all consist of homogeneous populations.

Obviously, the author missed that little tid bit.

I think were as good as a population of 350 million mixed cultures and races from cultures all over the globe is likely to get.

Too quick on the draw,,,

...Unfortunately (if you like democracy), the 19 “full democracies” put together constitute less than five percent of the world’s population

Size not diversity may be the issue

In fact, the majority of the 21 countries that have a higher ranking than the United States have a higher share of the population who are foreign born, so it's not really true to say they are homogeneous while "we" are diverse.

The US is not especially diverse in comparison to its developed country peers, though it has a large *number* of immigrants.

Not sure where you're getting

Not sure where you're getting your info, but the top nations listed here all have populations of Caucasian, native born citizens consisting of at least 70% of the total. I checked.

Could it be that years of

Could it be that years of active voter suppression, gerrymandering to preserve seats, the effects of big money in elections, the massive lobbying efforts, and the messaging "government is the enemy" has had an effect in reducing people belief that government is theirs to control ?

Naww, has nothing to do with it.

Of course

Your way to explain things is to be a victim and always blame the other guy. Wonder how we got so polarized?

I'm sorry, but ALL of those

I'm sorry, but ALL of those thing have, and are still, happening,

I happen to believe that government exists at the will of the people but there are many who have had to give up.

For instance....

Two GOP state legislators and a local Republican Party official warned on Facebook this week of a plot to “mobilize Muslims to infiltrate our Republican caucuses on Feb. 6.”
http://www.startribune.com/local-gop-official-warns-of-muslims-infiltrat...

This week in Minnesota.

In a party that fits very closely with their similar religious and social conservatism, their common spirit of entrepreneurship, and their common belief in a small government footprint.

Of course

most of the world's population is in China and India, which biases the sample a bit.

"Homogeneous populations"

It's true that Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are relatively small countries in terms of population and that they are largely white and share certain cultural legacies, including religion, if "Christianity" can really be called one "religion." In that sense they are "homogeneous". But it's fallacious to infer from these factors that they also account for the high degree of political and economic equality, which exist in these countries. These countries also have as much divergence and polarity as the US in politics or economic and social attitudes as exist in the US. There are strong currents of racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim in each of them.

What does not exist is plutocracy. Squalor such as exist in the US is nonexistent in these countries. Also nonexistent is obscene wealth. There are extremely wealthy people to be sure. The taxes all pay put the paltry amounts we pay to shame. But they enjoy social insurance benefits that the average American cannot comprehend.

Small these nations may be but the "masses" in the Scandinavian countries at any rate have forged a consensus that the disparities in wealth and political power we are forced to suffer in the US will not occur there ever again, though they did there once, about the time my ancestors emigrated from there and came to this country. Attributing the success of Scandinavian countries in eliminating plutocracy and scandalous disparities of wealth and income to "homogeneous population" is a total cop-out. That the US is considered only a "flawed democracy" is too kind. Americans should be ashamed of what exists today in our country which has ceased to bear any resemblance to a real democracy.

We recently added a terrible

We recently added a terrible new element to our growing failure as a democracy: The GOP Congress's rejection of transparent and fair procedures and their--and Trump's--refusal to recognize and respect our rule of law.

If you read the transcripts of the House Intelligence Committee meeting of last Monday afternoon, you see the irrationality and total lack of respect for Congress's role that Devin Nunes showed. If you read the infamous "memo," (in the context that many of us have, of having read the seventeen-hour testimony of Glenn Simpson before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee), you realize that the "memo"--even without the Democratic rebuttal that the GOP members refused to permit issuance of --is a bunch of misrepresentations and distortions, with some outright fabrications. It is actually one of the stupidest and unpersuasive pieces of D. C. writing one could imagine.

But through it, Nunes has attacked our institutions, as has Trump (who seems unable to distinguish our democracy from his one-man-rule business empire). Paul Ryan is he primary enabler. What shameful behavior.

Democracy or oligarchy?

Given the regime in power in the United States, this rating is likely to decline further. Even more troubling, a 2014 Princeton study stated the United States is no longer a democracy and has become an oligarchy. The study found public opinion has zero impact on U.S. law. Information about the Princeton study is available on the Quora website, "Is America an oligarchy or democratic?" by Professor Jay Strauss (11/12/16).

Interestingly, this study was

Interestingly, this study was done when Obama was our president.

True

Citizens United was passed in 2010 by a Republican Supreme Court.
The difference is that Obama was trying (harder at the end of his term than the beginning) to be part of the solution, whereas Trump is definitely part of the problem.

The study was apparently

The study was apparently based on “reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues” (http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746) which means that what happened in 2010 didn’t matter (and, I have to admit, Obama’s presidency didn’t matter either). But, considering that the Quora’s answer blames both parties, we can now see why Trump was elected with the promise to “drain the swamp.”

And . . .

. . . the House and Senate was controlled by those who wouldn't have cooperated with him if he was urging them to pass a bill that would have cured cancer, heart disease, diabetes and rid the world of nuclear weapons (because we wouldn't have been able to afford it without increasing the income tax rates of some of the wealthiest people in the world).

Please see my response to Mr.

Please see my response to Mr. Brandon – I should not have blamed Obama for this. On the other hand, Democrats would not support Trump now either if he did all the things you listed.

The “regime” in power is

The “regime” in power is irrelevant – the problem is “a decline in what it calls “social cohesion,” which has been diminishing for years,” as the piece explains. What would that be?

Cultural diversity is

Cultural diversity is anathema to social cohesion.

As the Scandinavian countries are just starting to learn, a society that pulls in 10 different directions is at an inherent disadvantage, and soon starts to exhibit all manner of dysdunction.

Unless you are one of the

Unless you are one of the indigenous people of this continent, you are an immigrant.

Perhaps if immigration had been stopped before you or your relatives came here, there would be less dysfunction....

See how that works ?

Pot meet kettle, shoe on the other foot, and all that...

Pots vs Stews

I heard an interesting comparison about some cultural sensitivity training that went something like this.

In the past, the USA was considered a melting pot. People from all over the world would come here and be melded into one American society.

Where as to day we "need to think of it as an American stew"... Where people from all over the world come here and maintain their unique beliefs cultures languages etc.

My point is that of course a stew is less consistent and more chunky in nature than a nicely melted chocolate... Does that mean it is any less democratic?

Metaphors for Lunch

That is some interesting imagery. At the risk of belaboring it (and getting myself hungrier than I already am), I think one of the best parts of a stew is that the different chunks stand out, but have some sort of cohesion to them. All the ingredients stand out and let their individual flavors come through, but are all part of one whole.

The late Nat Hentoff made a less savory image when he said that jazz is a strong reflection of the American culture. Everyone gets to play their own solo, but the whole band is working towards the same overall goal.

It may not effect Democracy,

It may not effect Democracy, but it inherently corrupts social cohesion, and yes, that's a bad thing in my opinion.

And?

Now that you've identified the problem (diversity corrupting social cohesion, if not democracy itself), what do you see as the solution; and how would it be implemented?

Simple: Stop emphasizing

Simple: Stop emphasizing diversity of colors (because scientifically race matters little as we know) and emphasize diversity of thoughts and civil discussion of the differences.

Oh, okay...

We'll tell all of those folks to just knock it off. Apparently, only those of European ancestry have the right to be proud of their heritage.

Knock what off? Everyone has

Knock what off? Everyone has the right to be proud of one’s heritage – where did I say otherwise?

What exactly do you think

"Stop emphasizing diversity of colors " means? Being proud of one's heritage means to publicly celebrate diversity, the very thing that conservatives feel is so detrimental to the cohesion of the country.

“Being proud of one's

“Being proud of one's heritage means to publicly celebrate diversity” Absolutely not. I am proud of my heritage and you are proud of yours – we don’t intersect, it’s not public.

As usual, What?

I'm pretty sure I didn't mention anything about colors (I think I was replying to Curtis's comment), but I can't help but wonder where, besides your imagination, you keep getting this stuff:

"Stop emphasizing diversity of colors (because scientifically race matters little as we know)"

Again, What?

Scientifically?

Race matters little?

As we know?

Who is the "we" who knows that?

Last time I checked, race mattered a LOT when it comes to things like every economic indicator there is and the way those indicators reflect the state of people's practical day-to-day, "getting by" life . . . You know, things like educational opportunity, jobs, unemployment, pay rates, the ability to pay for food, housing, transportation, health care, etc.?

Last time I checked, a person's (luck of the unfathomable draw) race was a huge (and scientifically demonstrable) factor in all those things.

Before offering up comments such as these, you MIGHT want to try doing a quick and simple search on something like "impact of race and ethnicity on _______" (fill in the blank with words like health, education, employment, incarceration, capital punishment, economic status and even "molecular pathways in human cancer") before letting us all know that "race matters little" and that the solution to the "diversity problem as it relates to democracy and social cohesion" is to stop thinking and talking about it in terms of color or race and start thinking and talking about it in terms of "thoughts" and THEIR "diversity."

That may be interesting and fun for people with plenty of casual time on their hands who love to engage in civil discussions about thought and its diversity, but I'm not sure those who see and EXPERIENCE color or race as BEING a deep, intractable, often devastating and catastrophic Real Life Problem for them would be all that interested or have the time and resources required to participate.

And, of course, there's always a chance they wouldn't be invited to the discussion. Especially if those doing the inviting were concerned about the possibility of any of those conversations being confused or soiled by the interjection of anything suggesting color or race might be a factor in diversity and how diversity may figure into things like democracy and social cohesion.

You referred to diversity

You referred to diversity which is defined everywhere as different races… And here is why scientists say that biologically race matters little: https://www.livescience.com/47627-race-is-not-a-science-concept.html, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/race-is-a-social-construct-sc....

“Last time I checked, race mattered a LOT when it comes to things like every economic indicator there is and the way those indicators reflect the state of people's practical day-to-day” There is a correlation between race and all those things but it doesn’t mean that race matters which implies causation. Otherwise you are giving ammunition to those who say that races have different abilities…

The notion that in the "good

The notion that in the "good old days", immigrants came over, everyone learned English and we were melded together just ain't true. It was often the generation first born in America that were the ones that truly embraced "American" culture. (Heck, to this day, you can still attend Catholic church services across NE Minneapolis in various non-English languages) The difference is that today's immigrants look different and speak different languages than the ones that came over decades ago.

It’s not about looks but

It’s not about looks but about attitude. In those old days no one translated anything so immigrants had to learn English…and they didn’t demand it either.

The Good Old Days

"In those old days no one translated anything so immigrants had to learn English…and they didn’t demand it either." Someday, you should take a look at a Minnesota Legislative Manual from the early 20th century. Look at the lists of newspapers. Count how many newspapers were published in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, etc.

Unofficially, many people (law enforcement, shopkeepers) learned at least some immigrant language to communicate with customers. Politicians routinely learned campaign speeches in other languages. The linguist Mario Pei told of the editor of an Italian newspaper in New York who steadfastly refused to learn English, because everyone he knew or dealt with spoke Italian.

Immigrants learned English if they wanted to get ahead, or just get out of the old neighborhood. It wasn't that translations were not available, it was a decision that was made on their own to integrate themselves into the mainstream.

My maternal grandmother was

My maternal grandmother was born in 1899, shortly after her parents arrived from Germany. They had three more children, and they raised all of them to speak German only at home. If they tried to speak English at home, their parents would say, "Ich verstehe nicht," or "I don't understand." The family attended a German-speaking church, which sponsored a German-language summer school for the children of its members.

However, my grandmother recalls that outside the home and church, all these German-American children preferred to speak English with one another. She also told me that when she was growing up, everyone living around West Broadway spoke either German or Yiddish, sometimes both.

Eventually, the parents sponsored my great-grandmother's parents and their youngest child, who was 14 at the time. This couple (my great-great grandparents) never learned English at all, even though they both lived into the 1930s. (The 14-year-old did, though.) My great-grandparents learned to understand English pretty well, but they never learned to speak it well, and they tended to switch back and forth in mid sentence. I was in high school and college when they died, so I have clear memories of them.

Due to associating with all these relatives, my mother grew up bilingual but spoke German with a definite American accent. Her father was from Latvia, where German and Russian were the most prominent foreign languages, so he had no problem fitting into the extended family.

(By the way, Latvians who came here after World War II tended to be very intent on preserving their language and culture, and most of them raised their children in Latvian.)

Much of the resentment against immigrants tends to be directed at Latinos and Muslims.

Well, there have been Latinos in the territory of the continental U.S.--in Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico-- since before there were even British settlements in North America. Some of their descendants speak Spanish, but many do not. This is nothing new. The original singer of "La Bamba," Richie Valens, killed in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper 50 years ago, was a Mexican-American from California who did not speak Spanish and had to learn his hit song phonetically.

When I lived in a small town in Oregon where a lot of Mexicans had settled, I saw Latino children who were growing up like my grandmother. They spoke Spanish with their parents, but when they were without adult supervision, they spoke English to one another. This is typical for immigrants of all nationalities. It is only the numbers of recent Latino immigrants that is leaving the impression that Latinos "are refusing to learn English." Recent arrivals rarely speak English well and many never learn. That has been true ever since the first non-English-speaking immigrants arrived here centuries ago.

Getting back to stories my grandparents told me, the Jewish immigrants who came at about the same time as my grandparents were mostly straight from the shtetl and strictly Orthodox. They observed their own religious laws, dressed distinctively, mostly kept to themselves, and suffered a lot of prejudice.

But if you look at the Jewish population of the Twin Cities today, you will see that very few are Orthodox. Most are well assimilated into mainstream American culture and may or may not observe any religious customs or attend temple services.

I suspect that the same thing will happen to Muslim immigrants in a couple of generations. It has already begun to happen in Western Europe, not with everyone, of course, but there are significant numbers of people of Muslim heritage in Britain and France who are secular and function well in these European societies. We hear about the terrorists; we don't hear about the success stories.

So I'm not worried about immigrants, as long as the bigots stay out of the way. Much more worrisome are the white (and a few Asian) guys with guns and a grudge who seem to be making mass shootings a routine event in this country.

Sound Bites

Now if you could just put that on a bumper sticker.

Fabulous stories, thank you!

Yes, this is how it used to

Yes, this is how it used to be. But not anymore: our life doesn’t require it now to advance and society has adjusted to make it easy with easy translation available into dozens of languages… which results in lack of social cohesion. We spoke Russian at home and are glad that our children can speak Russian but outside we always considered it impolite to speak language that people around don’t understand.

Americans have a weird

Americans have a weird attitude toward other languages. Perhaps this is because the U.S. is the only country in the industrialized world where it is possible to go all the way through college without ever studying a foreign language.

Monolingual people end up holding two contradictory attitudes about languages. For themselves, they are so sure that learning another language would be so difficult that they would never even attempt it. However, they think that immigrants should speak English immediately after stepping off the plane.

Denying people important information will not make them learn English any faster. If a hurricane is approaching Florida or Texas, it simply makes sense for the Weather Channel to give the information in Spanish as well as in English.

Every single immigrant group has followed the pattern of the first generation speaking little or no English, the second generation being bilingual but English-dominant, and the third generation being English-speaking with little or no knowledge of their heritage language. Every single immigrant group. There is no such thing as an immigrant group whose second and third generation don't speak English.

I have lived in Japan and visited over twenty times. A tremendous amount of public information, including directional signage on streets and in train and subway stations, is available in English there, and more recently, in Korean and Chinese. No one seems to mind. People there seem to realize that the important thing is to get information out instead of fretting that some recently arrived residents require information in their own language.

Weird Attitude

A person who speaks two languages is bilingual.

A person who speaks more than two languages is multilingual.

A person who speaks one language is an American.

You may be right that many

You may be right that many Americans don’t know foreign languages (interestingly, my son had a speech about the need to learn them) but it doesn’t apply to me (I am bi-lingual) so I am all for learning foreign languages. Nor do I think that immigrants should speak English immediately but I think they should start learning immediately. When people need an interpreter after living in America for ten or more years – it’s wrong… but many are unconcerned. And yes, necessity is speeding up leaning – of everything, in fact. If one doesn’t feel the need to learn English, he or she will not. As for Japan, they have signs in English out of necessity, for visitors. France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and most other countries don’t have anything in another language. Even Canadian Quebec has everything in French only.

Newspapers were not

Newspapers were not government sponsored. It’s perfectly fine for private businesses to translate anything they want to and I have no problems with the multi-language media. But government cannot and should not do it, if for nothing else but to avoid discriminating against those whose numbers don’t justify translation into their language. Immigrants, including me, cannot demand anything of America…

“Immigrants learned English if they wanted to get ahead” Very true and that is why most did…

Fact check

In the 1890s, Minnesota provided election instructions in nine languages (English, Norwegian, German, Swedish, French, Czech, Italian, Polish, and Finnish).

Today, they only do so in six languages (English, Spanish, Russian, Somali, Hmong, Vietnamese).

Will you please refer me to

Will you please refer me to the source of this information? Because when we came 25 years ago, I do not recall seeing anything in Russian from the government?

I didn't live here 25 years

I didn't live here 25 years ago, but I can tell you for certain that the Portland (Oregon) transit agency, a division of the metropolitan government, provided information in Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Romanian...and Russian, to reflect the major immigrant groups in the city. (A lot of Russian Pentecostal Christians moved to Portland, for some reason, and there were Old Believers in some of the nearby towns.)

I guess they were just

I guess they were just standard brochures, just like all museums have them in multiple languages. I am talking about translating specific information addressed to individual people.

Society is less socially

Society is less socially cohesive if we don’t all speak the same language…

"Cultural diversity is

"Cultural diversity is anathema to social cohesion"?

Weird statement. Contradicted by the successful existence of American cities and our long history of immigration. Suprisingly, we get along together.

What's happening in today's America, however, is that the white male dominance that permitted even economically-powerless white men to feel superior to other men and all women, has begun finally to crumble and fade. The neo-Nazi white nationalists and racists who gathered at Charlottesville last year to re-assert white dominion are part of the death struggle of that fading hegemony. Sorry incident, but it indicates increasing irrelevance of that white male "power."

“Suprisingly, we get along

“Suprisingly, we get along together” Well, that’s the problem – we don’t anymore – that is the reason for our deteriorating democracy…

You Will Be Assimilated

So apparently the BORG from Star Trek are an excellent example of what these folks value in a Democracy... Most people share common opinions and have the power to enforce them on everyone in their country... And if a large minority with different views have the power to stymie that action... That is considered a bad thing?

Every year more power goes to DC the

more flawed our Democracy becomes. When your personal freedoms start being determined by DC elites, there will be problems. Let the States have the rights the 10th amendment has given them. Much easier to change States to find the amount of Govt you want in your life than change countries. Easier to change local politics than DC politics.
When the Govt weaponize some of the most powerful agencies we have for political purposes, a huge loss in trust ensues. The EPA doing “regulation thru litigation”, IRS targeting certain groups due to their political beliefs, FBI and DOJ not following protocol and complaining about legislative oversight (that is the House and Senates job) all erode trust.

Why?

Why are the states any better at democracy than the federal government? Put another way, why is it better to have my personal freedoms be determined by elites in St. Paul or Pierre rather than in Washington?

Because you can change your politicians locally

easier than nationally (you have no control over who New Yorkers elect) and you can change States easier than Countries. Our Founding Fathers wanted the States to keep power and slowly the DC elites have been stealing it. It seems the liberals like giving Trillions of our tax dollars and unlimited power to DC, not me!! For an example, if I don’t want to pay Minnesota state tax I can move to N. Dakota. if I don’t want to pay Federal tax, I need to leave the country.
It just common sense that a smaller, local Govt is easier to control and change than the money eating mammoth we have in DC.

And . . .

You can buy your local politicians a lot more easily (and cheaply) than you can national politicians.

I've been following state legislation and regulation professionally for over 25 years. You cannot get me to believe that state governments are any less intrusive on our personal liberty than the federal government is. The corruption is bad enough, but many states are pretty disdainful of the rights or interests of less-than-favored groups. Is it any wonder that the racists today resort so often to the "states' rights" rallying cry?

"Our Founding Fathers wanted the States to keep power and slowly the DC elites have been stealing it." If the DC elites are "stealing it," that is the fault of the people. Big Government is popular, except when it isn't. Give us our interstate highways, our military protection, our rural electrification, but boy, do we hate Washington!

I wouldn't have thought this needed to be said yet again, but our country is nothing like the nation that the Founders lived in. We were an agrarian society then, largely self-sufficient in economic, political, and cultural matters (due primarily to geography). I can't imagine what the Founders' reactions would have been to the idea that we would be bound up by their understanding of government over 200 years later. Snorts of derision, most likely.

Wierd response

Contradicted by the successful existence of American cities and our long history of immigration. Suprisingly, we get along together."

While many cities may look successful looking out the windows of homes in high income neighborhoods, the fact is that most major cities are in real trouble. One need look no further than Chicago, anywhere outside the Gold coast is a virtual war zone, as is Oakland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Kansas City & on and on.

Also I find the lack of historical understanding telling, here. Until late in the 20th century, most immigrants were Europeans who brought a shared Western culture and history with them and blended easily into American society. It's only during the past 20 years or so that people from third world countries have arrived in numbers, and the opinion on their contributions to American society is far from unanimous.

When my Irish forebears came

When my Irish forebears came to this country in the mid-19th century they were ostracized, ghettoized, spat upon, discriminated against, denied schooling and jobs--you name it. It took generations for the Irish, and the Italiansand the Polish, to "assimilate" into our culture. And they were all white!

We're just having a problem with dark-skinned people immigrating today. And while Chicago continues to have crime problems, there's a strong black middle class and upper class there, and in Atlanta, and in New York and Boston and Los Angeles. And in the Twin Cities. We're getting along racially and culturally; it's the tough economic differences that still create difficulties. That's true of the new Muslim population, too.

Constance, They Weren't White

The Irish and the Italians were not considered "white" when they came to these shores. In fact, in the mid 1800's, in Chicago when the Irish moved into a neighborhood the black residents would move out. "There goes the neighborhood!"

Many businesses had signs that simply said "N.I.N.A.", meaning no Irish need apply. The reason many cops were Irish is that it was seen as a lowly profession. Police were mostly thugs, and thus jobs taken by those near the bottom of the pecking order. Police forces did not become more professional until they became unionized.

Irish folk like you who are true to their roots live by the admonition to "don't pull up the ladder just because you're in the boat." We were the dark skinned people, who practiced a suspicious religion, and our loyalty was questioned. The bishop of New York city began parish schools, because the public schools taught Irish children a religion they did not practice or believe in. This land was very hostile to us.

You just made a great point:

You just made a great point: based on your ancestors’ experience, immigrants are looked at with suspicion no matter their skin color so racism has nothing to do with that. But immigrants in those days did not feel that the country owes them anything – they were just happy to be here.

It Was About Race

The groups Ms. Sullivan mentioned we not considered the same race as the WASPs that ran the show back then.

If that is true, that proves

If that is true, that proves my point even more: the real race is irrelevant; immigration status is what matters – all newcomers are considered a different “race.”

Interesting

So those African Americans that started arriving on slave ships in the early 1500's don't qualify? Nor do the Chinese migrants from the Mid 1800's? Guess the Mexican's settling southern California in the late 1700's don't qualify either! Probably why they have so many cities with Spanish sounding names, San Diego, Francisco, Los Angeles, those all need to be blended to "American" names. .

Don't You Mean

Mexicans living in the part of Mexico that we no call California?

They didn't move. The border did.

Thank you

I stand corrected, (good one) since the border moved are they considered illegal emigrants?

We've had a flawed democracy for over 200 years.

There's no flawless democracy anywhere in the world nor in the annals of history. The idea that the US had reached some kind of "ideal" state back in the 80s was always a "centrist" neoliberal delusion.

We compare favorably to some, and unfavorably to others but that's not a "new" development in the last two years. I'm not sure why someone would say that the Russian attack on our previous election is more threatening than the Supreme Court intervention on Bush's behalf back in 2000 for instance?

We've had several criminal regimes in the last few decades, some actually worse than Trump so far.

I'm not saying that we're not being tested, we certainly are in the midst of a Constitutional crises, but it's not the first time. What IS different about this crises is the media coverage. Previous crises tended to be minimized, as for instance when the media pretty much universally reported that Bush won Florida's recount when in fact Gore had won Florida when ALL the votes were counted. Everyone just kind of decided to move on. The handling of the Iran Contra crimes was also limited to a narrow examination that excluded terrorism and drug smuggling. This time the press seems to be more open to exploring the "flaws", but I think that's a reflection of the fact that we have an actual clash among the "elites" that has left the media somewhat rudderless.

Odd

It is a bit odd that many of the comments went to ethnic differences, when what is stressing our country is really ideological differences. You know that... Where should our mixed economy go?

Should it continue drifting Left towards becoming a full fledged Social Democracy / High Welfare State like North Europe?

Should it pull back more towards Capitalism and Personal Responsibility?

I mean looks at our bitter arguments regarding taxation, welfare, healthcare, school funding, etc.

I found this article related and interesting. And please remember that these countries have some pretty tight requirements for accepting new immigrants. If you doubt me do some research on what it takes to immigrate to Norway.
https://fee.org/articles/the-myth-of-scandinavian-socialism/

""While it is true that the Scandinavian countries provide things like a generous social safety net and universal healthcare, an extensive welfare state is not the same thing as socialism. What Sanders and his supporters confuse as socialism is actually social democracy, a system in which the government aims to promote the public welfare through heavy taxation and spending, within the framework of a capitalist economy. This is what the Scandinavians practice."

It’s not ethnic differences –

It’s not ethnic differences – it’s cultural: When in Rome do as Romans do – especially if you want to settle there…

Norway

Not to get back into the immigrant discussion. It seems that Norway agrees with you and is very practical about converting the language and culture of people who want to move there.
https://norskbloggen.no/new-rules-for-immigration-to-norway

Definitely not the open door come as you are policy that some folks advocate for here in the USA.

I thinks it's really weird...

Commenters here have turned this into an immigration debate. What's up with that?

Agreed

Agreed