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10 Categories of News that Report on Potential Threats to Democracy

Current threat ratings are based on the individual ratings of these 10 categories.

According to our Narrative Analysis there are ten individual categories of narratives that will decide whether or not America maintains her democracy or continues to slide into autocratic, minority rule. How these narrative categories track between now and the 2024 Presidential election will largely determine if America is a democracy going forward. Although we recognize that the MAGA Republican Leadership narrative is easier to see, we also recognize that democracy in America will be determined by which of the MAGA stories on the right AND the left attract more voters.

For example, if Congress passes a national voting act ensuring all voters, regardless of their race, creed or economic standing can vote easily, democracy in America will benefit. IF Congress does not pass a national voting rights bill and states are free (with support from a conservative majority on the Supreme Court) to enact voter suppression laws and partisan election certification the threat level to democracy will go up. These laws impact people of color or allow state legislators to change the popular vote results by decreeing a different outcome based on party affiliation. 

Every week we capture and analyze the content in news articles, podcasts and social media posts using our narrative analysis process. We believe these news narratives will determine which way America leans after the 2024 election. We rate each individual article from Extreme Threat Rating = total autocracy, Low Threat Rating = pure democracy, in each of these ten key narrative categories. We then aggregate the ratings of individual news narratives into a master threat rating that is displayed on the VSD scoreboard. This rating is intended to give you a quick "snapshot" of the threat level to democracy in America every two weeks.

Here are the ten key threat factors we think are impacting democracy in America.

1. Voting Rights, Non-Partisan Certification of Election Results and Legislation Passed by States.

If the NEWS about voting and non-partisan certification of elections lowers the threat level to American democracy – it means that every qualified voter can vote easily. That can include an acceptable number of polling places given the districts population, and that early voting and mail in ballots can be accepted until the day of the election. It also means that certification of election results is done by a non-partisan body and is not subject to revision by state legislators or state courts. 

If the NEWS about voting and certification of elections raises the threat level to American democracy– it means that Congress has not passed a national voting rights act and Democrats have been unable to counter  voter suppression, and restrictive election certification laws in swing states. This also includes failure to push back on extreme "gerrymandering" maps created by Republican state legislators.  

 

Relevant Perspectives:

Republican-Led State Legislatures Pass Dozens of Restrictive Voting Laws in 2021

Ranked Choice Voting - An Alternative to winner takes all

 2. The Real Culture War - Majority vs. Minority Rule

If the NEWS about our current culture war news lowers the threat level to American democracy  it means we have correctly identified the real culture war in America as between a white, nationalist minority vs. a multicultural majority of citizens. In a democracy, the passing of bills in Congress, electing politicians, and the rulings of the courts should reflect the majority view of American citizens. 

 

If the NEWS about our current culture war news raises the threat level to American democracy – it means we are still talking about the American culture war as a conflict between conservatives and progressives and not taking notice that a white minority is attempting to take over American governance.  For example, an autocracy can elect a President with a minority number of citizens votes using the current Electoral College.

 

Relevant Perspectives:

Is America sliding towards Minority Rule?

6 facts about economic inequality in the U.S.

How the ‘Culture War’ Could Break Democracy

3. Ensuring a Women’s Right to Choose 

If the NEWS about a women’s right to choose lowers the threat level to American democracy – it means we have protected the constitutional rights that ensure all women the right to an abortion within reasonable limitations. 

 

If the NEWS about a women’s right raises the threat level to American democracy  it means that after overturning Roe vs. Wade red states are blocking women from abortion health services and in some cases charging them with criminal offenses. This means that a minority of American citizens are dictating to the majority what their rights are as it concerns abortion and family planning. 

 

Relevant Perspectives:

White men are reducing the rights of 50% of the population based on their beliefs

Biden blasts Supreme Court refusal to block Texas abortion bill

12 GOP Governors Ask Supreme Court To Overturn Roe V. Wade

Supreme Court's New Supermajority: What It Means For Roe v. Wade

4. The Effectiveness of Our Justice System  

If the NEWS about our current system of justice lowers the threat level to America democracy it means our justice system is holding bad actors accountable and protecting the rights of all Americans.

If the NEWS about our current system of justice raises the threat level to American Democracy - it means our existing system of of justice is not holding bad actors accountable and that court rulings are favoring a minority of American citizens,

 

Relevant Perspectives:

Congress Must Pass the ‘For the People Act."

If the Senate Doesn't Hold Trump Accountable

5. The Independence of Our System of Checks and Balances. 

If the NEWS about our system of checks and balance lowers the threat level to American democracy – it means the three branches of government are holding each other accountable as provided for in the constitution. 

 

If the NEWS about our system of checks and balances raises the threat level to American democracy – it means the three branches of government are unable or refuse to hold each other accountable. 

Relevant Perspectives:

Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade

Supreme Court limits the power of the EPA to combat climate change

Reinforcing rule by white, nationalist minority.

Wave Of White Judges Pushed By McConnell Will Be 'Ruling For Decades To Come'

The secret Supreme Court: Late nights, the shadow doc and the unwritten 6-vote rule

6. The Political Impact of Cable and Social Media News Feeds 

If the NEWS on cable networks and social media platforms lowers the threat level to American democracy- it means we are regulating cable and social media news as we do broadcast news and newspapers concerning the factual accuracy of their reporting. At the moment cable news and big tech social platforms are not regulated. 

 

If the NEWS on social media raises the threat level to American democracy – it means we are allowing cable news and social media feeds to remain unregulated. This results in the publishing of misinformation, lies and propaganda. Cable news and social media news feeds account for the biggest change in news reporting since newspapers were invented. For some reason, we have left these news sources unregulated. This is resulting in citizens not trusting news sources they used to depend on to tell them the truth. The first goal of an autocratic government.

 

Relevant Perspectives:

Perk walk offenders as examples

What we know about the "unprecedented" Capitol riot arrests

11 Trump associates have now been charged with crimes.

7. Combating Climate Change - Lowering Carbon Emissions 

If the NEWS about climate change lowers the threat to American democracy – it means we have begun to significantly reduce carbon emissions as we transition to a green economy and are mitigating the impacts of climate on poorer, level developed countries. 

 

If the NEWS about climate change raises the threat to American democracy – it means we are denying the existence of climate change.

Relevant Perspectives:

Prepare for Climate Change

Red lights flashing on climate 

Carbon dioxide levels continue at record levels

It's So Hot in Dubai that the Government is Artificially Creating Rainstorms

8. US Economy - Dark Money in Politics

If the NEWS about the US economy and dark money in politics lowers the threat level to American democracy – it means our  economic system is benefiting a wide range of citizens. It also means that we have blocked "dark money" from having undo influence on our political system.

 

If the NEWS about the US economy and dark money political contributions raises the threat level to American democracy – it means that 1% of the richest individuals and corporations are benefiting the most from US economic growth. It also means that "dark money" is still having a major influence on the American political system. 

 

Relevant Perspectives:

COVID-19 has made the super-rich richer. It’s time for a billionaire wealth tax

'Dark Money' Campaign Contributions Headed for Record High

How the Koch brothers used their massive fortune to power a conservative crusade

Liberal dark-money behemoth raised nearly $140M last year

9. Enact Gun Reform 

If the NEWS about gun reform lowers the threat level to American democracy – it means we have begun to establish fair and common sense laws/regulations concerning the ownership, and the types of weapons and their use.

If the NEWS about gun reform raises the threat level to American democracy – it means all citizens are allowed to be armed in public including the ownership and use of assault weapons meant only for the military. 

 

Relevant Perspectives:

Return to civilized gun ownership

Gun Control And Gun Rights

The legal battle over 'assault weapons' continues.

10. America's Influence in the World 

If the NEWS about America’s place in the world lowers the threat level to American democracy – it means we continue to engage with democracies around the globe on matters of  climate change, immigration and resisting authoritarian regimes. 

 

If the NEWS about America’s place in the world raises the threat level to American democracy – it means America remains isolated from the other democracies of the world and is a non-player in the global collaborations necessary to address climate change, income disparity, immigration and armed conflicts. A white, nationalist autocracy would also sell America’s greatest innovations to the highest bidder including the use of our military and its weapon systems.

 

Relevant Perspectives:

U.S. Foreign Policy Must Be Remade, Not Restored

Why the World Wants Democracy but Not Necessarily the American Version

Is the Right Putting America Up for Sale?

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