The Daily Beast

We’re Number One? The U.S. Is More Like Number 19 These Days.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos Getty

From birth, we here in the US are raised to think of this as the greatest country in the world. Well, it’s time to think again. We no longer live up to our own hype by almost any metric.

This past week has seen two new studies that have got to cut flag-waving Uncle-Sam-has-abs-of-steel boosters to their jingoistic quick. In the latest World Happiness Report, America ranked 19th. In the most recent Freedom House World Democracy Rankings, the US plummeted to a position right behind Argentina and Mongolia and on a par with Panama, Romania and Croatia. On top of that at President Biden’s inaugural press conference, he made reference to how poorly America’s infrastructure ranks when compared to other countries—13th in the world as it turns out.

Now look, there’s no shame in being in the top 10 percent of countries. But that’s not how we have been selling ourselves for the past century. “We’re number 19,” just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? It’s going to be darned hard for Toby Keith to turn that into a song lyric, isn’t it? Gonna be hard to thump our chests about the legacy of the Founders when we now have a system of government on a par with places like Mongolia and Romania, countries that began their marches to democracy barely two decades ago.

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