Biden’s Biggest Worry: Can Democracy Be Worth Saving. What really preoccupies the president, however, was summed up in a quieter passage that came near the end of the speech, one that didn’t get as much notice. If there is a sweeping premise that defines what Biden views as the greatest challenge of his presidency, it is that the United States must disprove a growing cynicism about democracy itself — not just in this country, but around the world. Amid deep political polarization and an undermining of norms, the processes have become so messy and fraught that people are losing faith that democratic systems are still capable of functioning and of delivering results.
(D)emocracy rests on what the late political scientist Robert Dahl called a “system of mutual security.” Each side in the democratic contest must have confidence that the other side will play by the rules of the democratic game, accept defeat if that is its fate, and return to fight another day. The political fight must be restrained by mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual restraint—respect for the right of opposing political forces to contest and criticize, trust that the other side will not eliminate it if it comes to power, and restraint in the methods used to contest for and hold power. No democracy can long survive a political atmosphere devoid of these norms. Yet that is the abyss into which American democracy is descending…a variety of different polls, using varying wording and methodologies, have all documented a growing willingness of the American people to consider or condone political violence. When the polarization between two political camps reaches the point that each side regards the other as morally intolerable, as an existential threat to the country’s future, democracy is at risk…Well before Trump began to use the power and prestige of the presidency to trample on democratic norms, ratings agencies noted a decline in the quality of U.S. democracy. Analysts at Freedom House have shown the decline unfolding steadily between 2010 and 2020, dropping the country’s “freedom score” by 11 points—from 94 to 83—on a 100-point scale. ..There exists a legislative remedy to this threat to democracy: the Freedom to Vote Act, forged through compromise between progressive and moderate Democratic U.S. senators. It would address not only the rising dangers of voter suppression and partisan sabotage of the electoral process but two other scourges of American democracy, gerrymandering and dark money. It would bring American democracy at least somewhat closer to the standards of impartial, independent, professional election administration that make this vital function noncontroversial in wealthy democracies, such as Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and most EU members, and even in numerous less prosperous democracies, including Costa Rica, India, and Mexico.
(1) Is the US a global democratic leader?
(2) Should gerrymandering laws be repealed?
(3) Should federal voting rights protections be passed?
(4) Should the National Popular Vote replace the electoral college?