Biden Says Democracies ‘Are Getting Stronger,’ Cites Midterm Elections as Example

Biden Says Democracies ‘Are Getting Stronger,’ Cites Midterm Elections as Example
President Joe Biden delivers opening remarks for the virtual Summit for Democracy in the South Court Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 9, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Jeff Louderback

President Joe Biden boasted that democracies are “getting stronger, not weaker” and cited how voters “rejected the voices of extremism” in last November’s midterm elections as one sign of progress during a session at the second Summit for Democracy on March 29.

“Today, we can say, with pride, democracies of the world are getting stronger, not weaker,” Biden said. “Autocracies of the world are getting weaker, not stronger. That’s a direct result of all of us.”

The United States has demonstrated that democracy can still do “big things” by “bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance premiums, rebuilding America’s infrastructure, driving innovation and tackling the climate crisis while all upgrading good union jobs,” Biden said.

“We’re also demonstrating the resilience of American democracy during our free fair and secure elections last fall, America’s first national election since the Jan. 6 attack in our capital,” Biden added.

“Voters resoundingly and roundly rejected the voices of extremism attacking and undermining our democracy.”

President Joe Biden speaks at a press conference in Ottawa, Canada, on March 24, 2023. (Andrej Ivanov/AFP/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden speaks at a press conference in Ottawa, Canada, on March 24, 2023. (Andrej Ivanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Biden highlighted his signing of the Electoral Count Act “to ensure American elections continue to reflect the will of the American people and protect the peaceful transfer of power” and added that “we’re gonna keep working to further strengthen protections” by working to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

The first summit, which Biden hosted, took place in December 2021. Since then, countries around the world have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia has invaded Ukraine, sparking a war that continues.

Some Allies Not Invited

Biden is hosting the second event with four leaders from four continents—President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, President Rodrigo Chaves of Costa Rica, President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea, and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands.

Overall, 120 countries were invited to participate.

American allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Singapore; and NATO allies Turkey and Hungary, were not invited.

U.S. officials said that summit invitations are not intended “to define which countries are and aren’t democracies.”

“There’s an incredibly broad swath of countries invited to participate in this process, from those with deeply consolidated democracies all the way through governments that have some democratic institutions and some non-democratic institutions,” a National Security Council official said.

“But in all cases, what we’re looking for is [the] positive will to move in the right direction, and we really want to use the summit itself and the process to put wind in the sails of actors who are interested in positive steps in this regard.”

Biden delivered opening remarks from the White House in the morning to start a day that featured the five co-host nations holding hybrid regional virtual forums with leaders around the world.

At the Global Challenges to Democracy session, Biden was joined by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the leaders of seven other countries.

Angola’s initiative to establish an independent judiciary, Croatia’s effort to bolster government transparency, and the Dominican Republic’s steps to curb corruption are among the examples of how democracies are thriving around the globe, Biden said.

Advancing Democracy Around the World

In his opening remarks early on March 29, Biden announced that the United States will spend $690 million to strengthen democracy programs.

“Over the course of three years, my administration intends to work with Congress to commit $9.5 billion across all our efforts to advance democracy around the world,” Biden added. “We’re all safer when that occurs.”

He also said that the United States and 10 other nations have reached an agreement on the guiding principles for how governments should use surveillance technology.

Earlier this week, Biden signed an executive order that prohibits U.S. federal agencies from using commercially developed spyware that poses risks to national security and threats of “foreign actors” to allow “human rights abuses” around the world, the White House announced.

“When we gathered here in December of 2021, the sentiment in too many places around the world was that democracies’ best days were behind us,” Biden said.

“But this year, we can say there’s a different story to tell, thanks to the commitment of leaders gathered today and the persistence of people in every region of the world, demanding their rights be respected, and voices be heard.

“We’re seeing real indications that we’re turning the tide,” Biden added. “Our job is to keep building on our progress so we don’t start heading in the wrong direction again.”

Other notable speakers at the summit on March 29 include U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are among the notable speakers at summit sessions on March 29.

South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol in Madrid, on June 29, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol in Madrid, on June 29, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Yoon guided a session on economic growth and shared prosperity; Rutte will lead a panel about democracy in justice systems; Hichilema hosted a session about delivering democracy through strong institutions; and Robles directed a discussion on how democracy supports inclusion and equality.

As part of the events on March 30, the United States will direct three sessions on Advancing Technology for Democracy.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will make opening and closing remarks while Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines will be among the featured speakers.

South Korea will host the next summit, the White House announced in a statement.

“The United States and the Republic of Korea share deep bonds, rooted in our common democratic values and respect for human rights, and we are committed to further strengthening our robust political, economic, security, and people-to-people ties,” the statement noted.

“In recent years, the Republic of Korea has emerged as a global leader, in no small part because of the enduring commitment of the Korean people to increasing governmental transparency, ensuring effective checks and balances, and developing laws that are responsive to public needs.”

Jeff Louderback covers news and features on the White House and executive agencies for The Epoch Times. He also reports on Senate and House elections. A professional journalist since 1990, Jeff has a versatile background that includes covering news and politics, business, professional and college sports, and lifestyle topics for regional and national media outlets.
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