Errol Fabien suggested on Monday that we have lost the bar by which we measure governments and politicians. It's a sensible statement most might accept as a matter of fact, but is it so simple as loss?
One of the things anthropologists are trained to do is compare different societies and cultures. We call this "ethnology." Some might think comparisons necessitate a sort of league table of better or worse societies, like the happiness and corruption indexes or GDP figures produced. Those sort of hierarchical measurements, however, tell us very little about changing sociocultural values and conventions.
A better form of cultural comparison eliminates hierarchy and tries to produce empathy. Empathy is the effort of imagining and trying to understand being in someone else's shoes. It is a hallmark of good ethnological studies.
Anthropologists don't just do ethnology of societies in the present; we also make these comparisons historically. For example, you can represent the ideas, values and culture behind measuring the success or failure of a government in the past, with the ideas, values and cultures of measuring success or failure in the present.