Last night’s joint address to Congress is making headlines for the same political and policy fights as always. But there is one aspect of President Biden’s speech that deserves closer attention.
Woven into his speech was a common thread: the idea that we are in the midst of a global competition of governing philosophies, where autocracy and tyranny are fighting to supplant democracy as the dominant form of government on Earth. Dictatorial leaders like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin believe they convince the world that self-government, and with it the freedom to vote, is a useless relic which can no longer function in the 21st century.
This ideological and philosophical fight is undeniable. Dictators and tyrants have long desired to undermine American democracy, whether by influencing our elections or sowing discord in our nation. Look no further than the Kremlin’s election interference over the last several years for proof. These efforts to break our democracy are part of that global fight to convince the oppressed that there is no hope nor salvation through liberty.
That idea is anathema to the very principles on which our great nation was founded. We are a nation birthed in liberty and committed – though often failing to live up to it – to the inherent worth, dignity and rights of all people. We must stand by those principles, and prove that the vision of American freedom is not antiquated, but is instead the path to a prosperous future for all humanity.
To do that, we have to do two things. First, we must work together to advance real policy solutions. That means putting compromise and earnest discourse above partisan posturing. It means working across the aisle to find common ground to build upon..
Secondly, we must tackle domestic extremism and terrorism, which threaten to tear us a part. Biden was careful to attribute the autocratic argument to foreign despots like Putin, but we cannot ignore the rising tide of anti-democracy sentiment right here in America. No one was happier about the January 6th insurrection than the enemies of democracy, both at home and abroad. Dictators around the world love to see lies about election integrity spread. Our adversaries rejoice in Americans losing faith in their government and in their nation.
We must redouble our commitment to democracy and to America. As Americans, we have been blessed with the inheritance of a government of, by, and for the people. We are the last best hope of humankind on Earth. As custodians of liberty, we must stand tall in defense of these principles. No singular policy or party could be more important than this one mission: to preserve democracy here, to ensure America remains a beacon of freedom in the world.