Written by By Rebecca Lima, CNN
The Paris-based European Commission’s think tank is listing the United States as a backsliding democracy for the first time in its 15-year history.
It is putting the US on the “backsliding democracy” blacklist for the first time due to its continued “considerable failures” on race and immigration and its attempts to “elevate white men” in the US political system, the group says.
Published in French on Saturday, the report, by the European Values (VE) think tank, says that the “disturbing tone” of President Donald Trump’s administration means that the country is losing its ideals.
It lists the high-profile immigration raid in Central Texas on November 19 as an example of the kind of sentiment that has undermined the US from within, saying that “we are learning that this is not a one-off incident.”
The report also highlights recent comments made by Trump and his supporters, including former White House adviser Steve Bannon and former congressman Tom Price — who says that “immigration” is a dirty word in America and refers to “taking the children of millions of people off of their parents” as the reason for people supporting him.
“We are starting to see an escalation of this approach, which is much more in line with the ‘race-based populism’ that has been fermenting since Donald Trump announced his candidacy,” Laurence Gonzales, secretary general of European Values, told CNN by phone.
She added that Trump’s administration has been making the US a more “global” and “bordering” country.
“With this strategy, the US is also at risk of losing some of its democratic character, which is not good, as America is one of the main democracies in the world,” she said.
Gonzales also believes the US administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement is “unusual” and “very damaging” for the idea of the world’s leading powers all working together.
“It is a very harsh example of putting America first. One of the great elements of the international order has been an interdependence, especially between the US and Europe,” she said.
“Now the US is moving away from this stance, and it will be difficult to recreate it,” she added.
The report, published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which runs from January 22-24, criticizes the Trump administration’s policies, the number of political appointments made by the White House since Trump came to power and the vetting of federal positions.
It also cautions that Trump’s pro-army and anti-environmentalist policies could be threatening the status of the US as a world leader on both issues.
The think tank concludes that Trump is jeopardizing the role of the US as “the engine of the international order and the sole hope of the world,” and that the “Trumpwing of right-wing populism” in the US has put democracy at risk.
In a rebuttal to the report, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that the report, which weighs the numbers of elected officials in power in various countries, would “only serve to underscore President Trump’s efforts to bring back jobs and infrastructure to the American people, prevent foreign predators like China from capturing our natural resources and enforce and build upon America’s strong alliance with allies.”
He added that “gravest challenges” to democracy in the US “occur from their new demands and new disregard for the rule of law.”
In an accompanying article to the report, Jean-Marie Fardeau, who headed the Ecumenical Foundation’s years-long analysis, wrote that “the combination of weak and outdated institutions, political pressure from non-state actors and the unpredictable behavior of the president will make the United States a difficult place to govern.”