Democracy is in retreat in the U.S. and around the world, report finds. What happened?

Democracy is in retreat in the U.S. and around the world, report finds. What happened?


JUDY WOODRUFF: Democracy faced its most serious
crisis in decades in 2017. That is the stark verdict of an annual report
from Freedom House, a Washington-based democracy promotion and human rights organization. The report charts a 12th consecutive year
of decline in global freedom, analyzing whether countries hold free and fair elections, the
rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law. The freest nations on Earth, according to
the analysis, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The least free? Syria and South Sudan. The report says the United States remains
a vibrant democracy, and free. But if — there was a further erosion of American
political institutions, continuing a seven-year trend. To discuss the findings, I spoke earlier today
with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served under President Bill Clinton, and
with Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich. I asked him what has happened in this country
that has led it, according to the report, to retreat from being a champion of democracy. GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), Ohio: Well, I think, Judy,
that people are thinking about the problems inside of our country. To me, that’s part of the reason why President
Trump was elected. People were saying, look, I don’t have much
income. My kid graduated from college. They have debt. They can’t get a job. And it’s somebody else’s fault out there in
the world, so, therefore, we need to withdraw, take care of ourselves. I think that’s very shortsighted. I don’t think that’s the fundamental problem. But I think that was the reaction here. And the danger is, when the United States
of America withdraws, it creates a vacuum, and the vacuum today is not being filled by
people that we share our values with. JUDY WOODRUFF: But I think, Secretary Albright,
it’s hard for people to believe that the United States, which was the beacon of democracy
around the world, is now described as a place in retreat when it comes to democracy. What are the specifics that’s led to this? MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, Former U.S. Secretary
of State: I think that the problem is that — just as the governor said, is that people
say, why should we worry about other countries, we need to worry about America. And that whole America-first stuff, I think,
has made that a more likely policy to follow, when, in fact, what we have to show is that
America is better off and Americans are better off if other countries are democracies, because
those other countries that are in decline are basically petri dishes for those people
that hate us and terrorism and various problems that come from just people being on the move. So, I think we have come to this because — and
I hate to say this — is because there has been leadership that has exacerbated divisions,and
not those where we’re trying to find common ground. JUDY WOODRUFF: Divisions. And, Governor Kasich, I mean, the report refers
to violations of ethical standards at the highest levels in the U.S. government. GOV. JOHN KASICH: Yes, I mean, there’s parts of
that report I think are really kind of silly, Judy. To say that we have lost our freedom because
the president didn’t release his taxes, but yet he complied with the law, to me is really
silly. Look, we’re all concerned about the attacks
on the press, but the press is resilient. Frankly, the press is more aggressive today
than I can remember it in a long time. I’m not worried about the United States in
terms of our basic freedoms. What I am worried is, when we withdraw from
trade agreements in the Pacific, the Chinese have an advantage. When we insult people in Africa, it means
the Chinese have more ability to have sway. When we are not working with our allies and
making unilateral decisions, it begins to undermine the strength of NATO. These are things that are very, very concerning,
not just to me, but the to around the world. Now, again, I think these institutions are
pretty darn strong, but you can’t take anything for granted here in the 21st century. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Secretary Albright, you
were telling me earlier your main concern is when it looks at what the Russians are
doing. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: The thing that troubles
me is, they did get involved in our election process, and it’s gotten so personal here
that we have not really been investigating enough what they have been doing in Europe
and what their plans might be for 2018 in the United States. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, at a time when we’re… GOV. JOHN KASICH: Hey, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, go ahead, Governor. GOV. JOHN KASICH: Secretary Albright made a point
here about a week ago that I thought was spot on, and that is this reinforcing of polarization,
the breakdown of our political leaders able to reach any consensus on anything is — you
know, it’s just — it’s destroying people’s confidence in the ability of our government
to make decisions that are in the best interests of the public, and not in the best interests
of political parties. JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to pick up on what you
said, Governor, about polarization, because what we’re seeing is a divide not just between
the two parties, but right now within your party, the Republican Party, over immigration. How do you see that divide getting resolved
in your own party? GOV. JOHN KASICH: Well, Judy, look, we — everybody,
every American believes we have to protect our borders. That’s a given. But to take 800,000 people who were brought
here as kids and to say that we’re going to systematically engage in an effort to ship
them out of the country, or even the El Salvadorans, where that country is not ready to accept
these people. You have President Bush and President Obama
both saying they gave waivers, so those people could stay. And when you study this, you see that many
of those folks are terrorized about the notion if they go home. Many of them fear for their lives. We need to have a policy that goes through
the windshield, not through the rear-view mirror, and begin to punish people, and maybe
that’s a strong word, but to do things to disrupt them once they are fully integrated
in our society, and they have been, you know, law-abiding people. Judy, there is one other element of this that
I thought about over the last few days. You know, the Republican Party says it’s a
party of the family. But we need to strengthen all families. I also think that we’re all made in the image
of the lord. And when we treat these people as somehow
numbers or goals, without thinking of them as people, we fall short as a nation. And I know people want strong borders. I know they want immigration reform. I’m for — I am for strong borders and immigration,
but we cannot project an image that we don’t love our friends and our neighbors who are
part of our culture. It’s just not right. And I hope they will resolve this here in
the next week or so. I don’t understand the holdup. Think about the way you want your family to
be treated. And if they think that way, we maybe get a
better result. JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Albright, as somebody
who has looked at not only global issues, but knows how the United States is seen around
the rest of the world, how much difference does it make in the United States’ ability
to get done what it wants to get done how it resolves an issue like immigration? MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that people
know and they have seen the United States a country that is welcoming, that understands
diversity, that has the Statue of Liberty, and that really we are the kind of country
that understands that we have to be diverse. That’s the strength of America. And I think that when the president makes
statements that basically makes a whole set of people feel inferior, it undermines our
policy. And what’s been so interesting is to watch
stories about how our ambassadors now have to try to explain what is going on. And it undermines America’s image. And let me just say there are people who say,
who cares about our image? What we care about — and I think is right
— it’s the job of every president to protect our people and our territory and our way of
life. And that can only happen if we have good relationships
with other countries, because we can’t do everything alone. So, it undermines America’s strength and it
makes it more difficult for our people to be protected. JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, Governor Kasich, last
night on the program, I interviewed Peter Wehner, a longtime conservative, a longtime
Republican, who said, to him, it’s extremely painful to watch what’s happened, what the
president has said in the last few days. What about you, as a lifelong Republican,
to watch this? GOV. JOHN KASICH: I have already said that he should
apologize. It was outrageous. And Peter Wehner, it’s interesting, because
he’s talked about the war inside of people of faith, particularly in the Christian movement,
a war within — I mean a war, but maybe a debate is a better term — about what evangelicals
are all about, what Christians are all about. And, to me, as a person of faith — and, look,
I fail all the time, but I will tell you what it’s about. It’s about love. It’s about caring. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about compassion. And that’s America. And when we lose that, we could lose our soul. I don’t believe we will. Finally, how about Secretary Albright? She’s iconic. She’s contributed a great amount to this country,
and I am privileged to always spend time with her. She’s terrific. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you, Governor. (LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: And on that note, we thank
both of you. Secretary Madeleine Albright, Governor John
Kasich, thank you both. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: You bet. Thank you.

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