The Main Idea

Democracy 1.0 was the original vision as laid out by America’s founders who birthed the first modern democracy.  Although that vision was a great step forward for mankind, as we all know, it was also flawed.  “All men are created equal” was not put into practice.  So Democracy 2.0 reflects the correction of that egregious flaw.  While problems remain, much progress has been made in that regard.  Yet, democracy remains rare and in decline.  The next step, Democracy 3.0, is to recognize that democracy does not stand alone but instead is inextricably linked to economic freedom and culture.  Content on this website focuses on that theme.  This slide deck summarizes the key points.

Click on the slide to see the deck in full screen format.

Ahead of its time

Democracy Road

Our award winning short documentary

A few years ago we produced a short documentary which examines why democracy is in decline.  The film won a few film festival awards and was screened at the prestigious Athens Democracy Forum hosted by the New York Times.  One of these days we will turn this into a full length, feature documentary. Watch the film and in a quick 10 minutes you can get a feel for the ideas presented on this website.


Below are themes relevant to the topic of democracy which are explored on this site.  Click through to find slide decks and articles which further develop the concepts around Democracy 3.0—the link between economics, culture, and democracy. 

The Democracy Crisis is Real

Coups in Africa.  Rising authoritarian behavior and falling support for democracy in Latin America, India, and other countries.  Elevated divisiveness in the US, France, and UK, among other advanced economies.  The statistics say democracy is in decline and observable evidence supports that.  This is a serious global problem with potentially devastating impact. 

The Leader of the Free World is Not Leading the World to Freedom

Since its founding the US has had a messianic aspect to its character.  America stands for freedom and is proud to support and spread freedom around the world.  Unfortunately, while the US has often successfully defended freedom from direct attack, it has failed miserably to spread democracy with Iraq and Afghanistan being the latest examples.  This is a serious blow to American prestige and influence. 

An Epic Failure to Build Democracy

The US spent 20 years and $1 Trillion trying to build a democratic foundation in Afghanistan.  The effort failed spectacularly.  Some people seem to think that “never do that again” is a sufficient response.  But Afghanistan is a great case study as to what democracy requires.   Learning those lessons is critical to American foreign policy, the future of democracy, and protecting American soldiers down the road.  

India and the Limits of Democracy

Rampant corruption.  State Assemblies dominated by criminals.  Police coercion.  Arresting political opponents.  Censoring the internet, among other examples of anti-democratic behavior.  Plus abject poverty and a host of related societal ills (including missing women and children).  India has elections but not the RULE OF LAW. Has 75 years of elections made India a democracy?  The best answer is NO!  But if the answer is YES, then clearly democracy is not that important. 

A Pattern of Lawlessness

It isn’t just India.  All Less Developed Countries (including the US in the early stages of development) experience weakness in the rule of law.  Corruption, coercion and criminal involvement in politics are common.  The graph to the right reflects one of democracy’s most critical statistics: economic growth improves corruption, but elections do not.  Elections without the Rule of Law is not real democracy.  We can’t save democracy if don’t recognize the importance of the rule of law and the role of economic freedom. 

Rule of Law: Not just a government problem

You might think this is ridiculous but how a country drives and queues says a lot about the health of its society and democracy.  It isn’t just the government where the rule of law plays a role.  In Less Developed Countries, weakness in the rule of law is evident across society and shows up in the most unexpected places.  This is clearly a cultural issue and it runs deep which is why changing such behavior is so difficult and takes time. 

Democracy Quiz

Most Americans, as citizens of the world’s oldest democracy, would likely insist that they understand democracy well.  But given the current status of democracy—rare and in decline—combined with America’s failure in Afghanistan, Iraq and other efforts to spread democracy, it seems reasonable to suggest we should be willing to question our most basic assumptions?  Below is our democracy quiz.  From our perspective, if you really understand democracy, you should be able to answer these questions. 

Why did America fail in Afghanistan?  What would it take for Afghanistan to become a democracy?  Why did Taiwan transition successfully to democracy but America failed to create any lasting democratic influence in Afghanistan?  In the wake of the failure in Afghanistan, some people seem satisfied to say “Don’t do that again.”  But how can we claim to understand democracy if we can’t at least explain what a country like Afghanistan should do to become a democracy?  It seems like having a good answer to this question would be required if we are to truly understand democracy.

Extremely impoverished.  Rife with corruption, crime, coercion and anti-democratic behavior.  Is India really supposed to be an example of democracy?  Maybe that’s why so many people are losing faith in democracy—because no one really wants to immigrate to India.  Answering this question goes to the heart of defining democracy and understanding what makes democracy (and society overall) successful. 

Polling data indicates that confidence in democracy has slipped globally, including Latin America, India, and even the US.  What message would you deliver to restore confidence, not just in America but globally?  India, Pakistan, Nigeria, S. Africa, Brazil, Peru and Honduras all have elections.  But the people are poor and the government is corrupt and ineffective.  What advice would you give them?  It would seem, if we can’t provide sound advice or credible encouragement to such people, maybe we don’t really understand democracy.

The correct answer to this requires a global perspective.  Consider India, Pakistan, Nigeria, S. Africa, Brazil, Peru and Honduras.  Compare them to Taiwan and S. Korea.  Also, be careful how you assess Europe.  Americans tend to think Western Europe is some kind of socialist mecca.  Look again.  Those countries compete intensely on a global basis.  Consider all countries before responding and your answer might run contrary to your initial inkling. 

India has elections but is also highly impoverished and has tremendous levels of corruption, coercion and criminality in government.  Of course, China does not have elections and also has problems with corruption and coercion in government.  But China has outgrown India by 500%.  On average, Chinese live on 5 times as much of as Indians.  Far more Chinese are free and empowered to make decisions about their education, career, job, home, travel, hobbies, etc.  Do you think the Chinese people would prefer for their country to be like India? Would they trade 80% of their income for the right to vote?  The answer to this question relates to the issue as to whether people automatically desire “democracy” and, if not, how can they be convinced to value it?