The Political And Cultural Bias of Freedom House

     An outfit calling itself “Freedom House” has decided that the U.S. is free… but not free enough.   Why is the U.S. not free enough?   President Trump.

  • The administration of President Donald Trump continued to introduce restrictive new policies to limit immigration and reduce the number of refugees and asylum seekers reaching US soil, prompting court challenges and some pushback from Congress. In March and October, the president vetoed congressional resolutions that sought to overturn his February declaration of a national emergency, which he used to reassign appropriated funds to advance construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.
  • In August, a gunman apparently motivated by racist and xenophobic ideology carried out the year’s deadliest mass shooting, killing 22 people at a store in Texas that was frequented by Mexican and Mexican American customers.
  • In December, the opposition-controlled House of Representatives approved articles of impeachment against President Trump, accusing him of abusing his office by attempting to extort a personal political favor from the Ukrainian government, and of obstructing Congress by ordering the executive branch not to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry. A trial in the Senate was pending at year’s end.

     Let us address the those score deficiencies.

“Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?

“¾”

     And how is the United States deficient? The use of the Electoral College, Russia interference, not making Russia interference a major issue, and being impeached.

     How is the Electoral College not part and parcel of a “free and fair” election? Is it because the winner of the Electoral College might not win a plurality of the vote? That speaks to an intentional anti-majoritarian element, not to whether the process is “free” or “fair”.

     The rest of it is linked to the Russia conspiracy, including the impeachment. To be fair, the Freedom House ranking was only through 2019 and didn’t include Trump’s acquittal in the Senate. But even they admit that “The Trump administration took some steps to prevent a repetition of the 2016 interference in 2020, but the White House resisted making the issue a major priority”. So not going full in on what he perceived as a political and personal attacks makes his election “unfree” or “unfair”? This “ranking” made no legitimate qualms about the 2016 Presidential election.

“Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?

“¾”

     And what are their complaints here? Single member districts drawn by legislatures with gerrymandering, voter ID laws, election officials who are elected (e.g. Secretaries of state, county registrars of voters, &c.), the Electoral College (again), the Senate, and vacancies on the Federal Election Commission.

     The “unfairness” of the “laws and framework” amount to the American Federal government not being set up the way Feedom House wants, what with equal representation of the states in the upper Chamber of Congress, the indirect election of the President, or centralization of elections to the Federal government. The decentralization and anti-majoritarian elements are features, not bugs. Their other major gripe is elected officials being in charge of making rules and enforcing the same. Perhaps Freedom House thinks that unelected bureaucrats are synonymous with “democracy”, but being directly accountable to the voters is preferable to often unionized social servants that can be even more impartial than an elected official who has to face the judgment of the people.

“Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?

“¾”

     The horror this time is the dreaded “interest groups” and a weak influence from party leadership, with specific complains including the existence of political action committees, people with money exercising their rights by donating or participating in political groups, and yet again griping about Russia—even about Giuliani working as a private representative for Trump amongst others.

     Unlike many “totes free” countires, the people are more directly involved and don’t passively sit back and let unaccountable party overlords toss out a handful of pre-selected   politicians.

     It’s bemusing how they complain about not enough democracy (e.g. the presence of the Senate) and too much democracy (direct participation by the people themselves).

“Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, religious, gender, LGBT, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities?

“¾”

     The claim here is “disenfranchisement” caused by “obstacles to voting” such as tossing out ca half-century year old pre-clearance lists and the presence of voter ID, legitimate purging of voter roles, not letting felons vote, and attempts to ask about citizenship on the decennial census.

     Clearly, Freedom House is demonstrating quite a lot of ignorance. The Supreme Court didn’t rule against pre-clearance lists but only that states and jurisdictions couldn’t be punished for something that happened half a century ago. Voter ID laws have not shown to dissuade voters of any race. Felons are convicted criminals who have lawfully lost many of their rights, and are considered to not be trustworthy with the franchise. The 14th Amendment arguably requires citizenship status to be known, and has been asked many, many times before. None of these things deny any “segment” of the population such as ethnic or gender grouping any “political rights and electoral opportunities.

“Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?

“¾”

     The executive branch and legislative branch being at odds were cited as a primary reason for the lack of a perfect score. This is nothing more than the intended checks and balances of having separate branches of government. They even so so far as to cite Trump casting vetoes as evidence of the “elected head of government and national legislative representatives” determining government policies! Do these people not realize   that the President is the head of government and Congress is the legislative representatives of the people and the states?

     And yet again, they cite Russia and impeachment as some type of proof that “the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives” aren’t determining policies because they disagree. The U.S. requires different branches of government to tussle, even if that means disagreement over nominations by the President and advise/consent by the Senate.   Funny how they complain about lack of “impartial” operation of government while saying that lack of political appointments is also a problem!

“Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective?

“¾”

     The entire argument is Trump’s refusal to put all his assets into a blind trust. He isn’t legally required to and this doesn’t affect any legal safeguards in place. Also, of course, Russia and impeachment.

“Does the government operate with openness and transparency?

“¾”

     Trump not releasing his tax returns (which he’s not legally required to do), and otherwise breaking with tradition when it comes to matters such as this. All that is private opaqueness, not a lack of openness and transparency of the functioning of government itself. The major non-private gripe is that Trump makes policy that doesn’t overly rely or defer to bureaucrats. Ironic then that not blindly deferring to government bureaucrats makes America less “free”.

“Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations?

“¾”

     Less people being members of unions, not letting public servants strike, and the National Labor Relations Board not bending over backwards for corrupt unions doesn’t stop anyone from joining a union. Heck, the fact that they can become sole bargainers for all employees indicates just how much power they actually have.

     They complain about “‘right-to-work’ legislation” (quote marks in the original document) and otherwise protect a worker’s right to not join a union or have to fork over their own money to support that same. This isn’t a restriction of freedom, but a protection of freedom.

“Is there an independent judiciary?

“¾”

     These Freedom House fools like to have it both ways, don’t they? They complain about Congress not being able to advise and consent and then complain when they do so in a way Freedom House doesn’t want. They then complain that Trump nominated, and the Senate confirmed a bunch of people to the bench! They even go so far as to complain about the President exercising his Constitutional right to granting pardons!

     That there are checks and balances does not make the judiciary independent, it prevents the judiciary from going to far.

     They even complain about state judges being elected in many states! An independent judiciary does not mean being “independent” from abuse of their power.

“Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?

“¾”

     It isn’t about Russia this time, but rather raaaccciiisssmmm!!1! Specifically they complain about incarceration rates and how some racial groups are over-represented. Of course this doesn’t take into account that crimes are being committed and some ethnic groups commit crimes at higher rates than other groups. This does not mean there is a lack of due process.

“Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?

“¾”

     The three complains are: The existence of mass killings, police brutality, and the existence of the death penalty. Mass killings are not alien to even European countries and in the U.S. are extremely rare.   They claim that most police involved killings don’t result in prosecution let alone full convictions; they seem to ignore the possibility that the officers are innocent and the use of physical force, if it did happen, just might be legitimate? Apparently America is less free because we don’t have kangaroo courts that deny due process. As for the death penalty, if it is to protect innocent people, it’s a legitimate use of force.

“Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?

2/4

     They bring up the “women make much less than men” lie, as well as fail to correct for other factors when comparing wages of individuals of different races. They even talk about the #MeToo movement! Oh, they even bring up the “Muslim” ban that didn’t “ban” Muslims and complain about not enough refugees in the U.S. And how dare, the U.S. enforce it’s own immigration laws and arrest illegal aliens! Tossed in is what amounts to talking about so-called “structural inequalities” and complaints about lack of Federal legislation stating that LGBTQ&c. are a protected class; none of which involved a lack of equal application of the law. This isn’t about equal treatment but of values Freedom House does not hold.

“Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?

“¾”

     Some people make more than others and some are able to earn degrees that others can’t.   That’s their argument… that and automation, lack of European style trade unionism, and lack of European style public transportation.   Not everyone can become rich, but almost everyone has an opportunity to make a living.

     In summary, Freedom House thinks that the U.S. is less free because we do things in a way they don’t prefer and also Russia!!1!


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