The United States—often hailed as the ‘oldest democracy in the world’ and the ‘leader of the free world’—has fallen on hard times. In addition to recent headline-grabbing political events that have highlighted its political dysfunction, data from the 2022 Berggruen Governance Index (BGI) reveal that overall state capacity and democratic accountability have been declining for years. Although public goods provision has remained on a steady course, the US still trails much of the developed world. We find this struggling performance is largely the result of neglecting three types of infrastructure: civic, physical and social. Specifically, we argue that the crisis became particularly pronounced due to an insufficient response to the 2008 global financial crisis. Although some recent political achievements could slow the decline, more drastic action will be required to reverse these troubling trends.
Photo by Ekaterina Belinskaya