Democrats celebrated last year after the 2020 election saw the party regain the White House and razor-thin majorities in both congressional chambers—the first Democratic trifecta in over a decade.
But the joy of this victory was soon marred by the GOP's response and by stalled productivity imposed by congressional norms.
Under the guise of baseless widespread election fraud claims, Republican legislatures across the nation introduced election bills, suppressing likely-Democratic voters and communities of color. In the year since the 2020 election, 17 states have passed restrictive voting measures into law, practically all of which strengthen the Republican party's national election odds.
To make matters worse, congressional Democrats are practically helpless to pass voting rights legislation thanks to the Senate filibuster, which imposes a 60 vote rule for most legislation to advance to debate, effectively granting the minority party the ability to decide what passes and doesn't. Efforts to reform or eliminate the filibuster have been effectively dashed by conservative Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
These were two of the reasons cited by the International IDEA think tank, which recently added the United States of America to its list of "backsliding" democracies for the first time.
One of the report's authors, Alexander Hudson, said of the decision:
"The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020. However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy."
Though this was the first year the U.S. was added to the list, the report indicates the backsliding began as early as 2019.
It was not a welcome development, but not a surprising one either.
The report describes former President Donald Trump's denial of the 2020 election results as a "historic turning point" for the strength of American democracy.
People blamed him and the GOP's growing embrace of fascism for the report's findings.
The full report is available online here.