Biden’s Push to Strengthen Democracies Abroad Begins at Home
It was supposed to be in person, but the long tail of the COVID-19 pandemic meant Joe Biden’s first gathering of the world’s democracies would have to be held virtually. Biden, his Secretary-of-State Antony Blinken and Biden opened the Summit for Democracy’s opening day.
“Democracy needs champions,” Biden said, adding that the meeting had been on his mind for a long time.
Biden promised such a summit while on campaign trail against Donald Trump. Fed judges under immense pressure, InterferedThe Justice DepartmentThe following is a list of the most commonly used words:Campaign tools from his officeIt was attempted. overturn legitimate election results. “Here in the United States, we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort,” Biden said.
After the Cold War, the U.S. and world’s democracies were ascendent. Widely, the collapse of Soviet Union was seen as an indicator that authoritarian governments not only robbed personal freedom, but also proved to be a form of government that would fail. However, Trump’s undemocratic actions and the autocratic leadership of leaders in countries like Brazil, India, Hungary and Poland have slowly led to the realization that maintaining robust democracies is a task.
“Democracy is in serious trouble. We’ve seen more and more democracies weakening their respect for political rights and civil liberties,” says Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which has rated countries on political rights and civil liberties since 1973. “It’s gonna take some time for us to dig out of the hole.”
Two-day summit was widely viewed as another avenue to form an informal alliance with Russia and China. It saw leaders from countries make commitments to fighting corruption, supporting human rights advocates and bolstering independent media. Biden’s Administration committed to diverting $424 millions to fund these civil society groups and governments all over the globe. Many countries promised to return in a year and describe what actions they’ve taken.
Biden has had to balance many things in order to convene the summit. Instead of being an ideal democracy, the U.S. has been a case study in what it takes for the United States to fight against those who would subvert the will and disenfranchise its citizens.
The U.S.’s autocratic rivals China and Russia relished the irony of the U.S. hosting a summit on democracy as its own system of government is going through such a tumultuous period. Beijing’s propaganda system kicked into gear in advance of the meetings, releasing a pair of reports calling China’s own authoritarian government a “democracy,” and describing the U.S. as a country where “money decides everything” and “political paralysis” hampers governing.
Russia’s foreign ministry said the U.S. shouldn’t be convening a summit and deciding who is a democracy and who is not. “It looks pathetic, given the state of democracy and human rights in the United States and in the West in general,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, according to Tass, Moscow’s state-run news agency.
The invitation list to Biden’s democracy summit was also a point of contention among human rights advocates. Biden was criticised for inviting Freedom House Rates Pakistan as only “partly free” for intimidating media, curbing civil liberties and selectively enforcing laws. India, the world’s largest democracy, was also rated “partly free” in Freedom House’s 2021 report for discriminatory practices against its Muslim citizens and crackdowns on press and civil society. Biden Administration officials said invitations to summit were designed to be inclusive of a range of viewpoints and experiences, and not identify healthy democracies.
Continue reading: Joe Biden’s Democracy Summit Is the Height of Hypocrisy
Democracy is not a “perfect end state,” says Rose Jackson, director of the democracy and tech initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “If the point of democracy is to course correct when things go wrong and have mechanisms to do that, then we actually have to be talking about the stuff that has been going wrong,” Jackson says. “We can have our flaws on display. Sometimes we are stronger when we acknowledge the flaws.”
Biden stated repeatedly during his presidency, that he hopes to prove that elected democratic political leaders are capable of solving difficult problems. He’s pointed to the recent enactment of a trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure law as a sign that U.S. politicians from across the political spectrum can tackle issues.
Biden still has much to cover. The U.S. has been viewed as an example of democracy by the world under Trump. General perceptions of the U.S. overseas rebounded strongly when Biden was elected, according to the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey, but 57% of respondents in the Pew survey this spring agreed that the U.S. “used to be a good example, but has not been in recent years.” At home, Biden has promised to push for legislation to protect Americans’ right to vote from a wave of restrictions being passed by Republicans in state legislatures around the country, but the bills have languished in Congress as Democrats debate internally over a raft of social spending measures designed to reduce costs of health care and child care and address climate change.
Having forces inside the U.S.continuing to undermine democratic systems “makes it more challenging for the United States to try to have a summit like this,” Abramowitz says. The U.S. still has a vibrant media, strong rule of law and tradition, but Abramowitz points out that “there’s no question U.S. democracy has been backsliding” in recent years. “It’s very significant that the President has put a marker down,” Abramowitz says. “Now it’s time to show results.”