But dig into the criteria being used and you find a troubling definition of “democracy” that serves the interests of US power—and wealthy elites. According to the Polity IV method, the United States during the time of slavery scored 9 out of 10 on the democracy scale. During the era of Jim Crow, when most blacks and women of all races couldn’t vote, it scored a perfect 10 out of 10—or “full democracy.”
The metric makes many equally dubious assertions. Today’s Israel—which occupies the lands of 4.5 million Palestinians, who cannot vote in Israeli elections, do not have freedom of movement and are restricted in dozens of ways—receives a score of “full democracy,” or 10 out of 10. Since the nation of Palestine is not included in Polity IV’s list of countries, one can only assume it must fall under the purview of Israel, which renders the score even more risible. How can a country with 35 percent of its population disenfranchised be a “full democracy”? The same way, presumably, that the antebellum United States—with 3.5 million slaves—can be 90 percent democratic.
Similarly, countries that suffered colonialism at the hands of European and US “democracy,” like most of Africa, South Asia and the Middle East prior to 1960, are simply listed as “no data.” For those still suffering the brutal legacy of colonialism, this map from 1900 leaves a lot to be desired: