Zohdy is the director of the Open Gov Hub, a network of almost 50 groups promoting transparency, accountability and civic engagement around the world. Raderstorf is a consultant to that organization and a public policy graduate student at the University of California- Berkeley.
"Washington is broken," says …. well, everyone. To say that something's wrong with American democracy is practically an unspoken and bipartisan assumption in today's politics.
And the United States is not alone in facing this new and building strain. Larry Diamond, a renowned democracy scholar at Stanford, warns of a "global retreat from freedom" with decay in both old democracies, like the United Kingdom, and young ones, like Poland and the Philippines. This is not a coincidence. Clearly many factors driving discontent and dysfunction in the United States are global forces of economic, geopolitical, social and technological change.
When you look closely, as we did in the Defending Democracy Program, the parallels are remarkable — almost every aspect of our current democratic crisis is repeated (and often exaggerated) somewhere else. "Make Brazil great again," says that country's president, Jair Bolsonaro. According to President Trump, comparisons to Hungary's anti-immigrant strongman Viktor Orbán are both true and a compliment. Want to see how bad online disinformation or media intimidation can get? Just look to Ukraine or India. Attempts by Poland's far-right government to control the judiciary by force seem like the natural extension of recent Supreme Court battles. The list goes on and on.