Letter from Chairman
Hello, and welcome to the Renew Democracy Initiative.
We founded RDI at the start of 2017 because the crisis that had been building for years had reached a new level of urgency. The rise of authoritarian and populist regimes, the decline of liberal democracies and their values—it was time to act.
Unfortunately, it is now easy to see that things are going wrong in the world, but it’s much harder to diagnose why and to find a cure. With the help of my illustrious colleagues, RDI has assembled a formidable amount intellectual firepower to supply not only ideas and solutions, but to help build the structures and networks required to implement them.
My status as a former Soviet citizen and a pro-democracy activist in Putin’s dictatorship gives me a different perspective on the challenges facing the established democracies in North America and Europe. For all the shortcomings of liberal democracy, it remains far superior to the alternatives. But with no existential enemy to focus on, apathy has set in since the end of the Cold War. The countless benefits of open societies—the prosperity, elections, rule of law, free speech, and free markets so envied by those in unfree states—have been taken for granted. This complacency has provided fertile soil for extremists and demagogues on every part of the political spectrum promising easy answers. They must be met by real answers and by unity on shared principles, not equal and opposite extremism.
It was obvious at the start that RDI could not be a partisan political initiative, or even a bi-partisan one. Our mission is to educate and inspire about the values and institutions of free societies everywhere, across the globe, not merely politics. It will require participation at every level, from academia and politics to activists and students.
The ballot box and the donation box are both vitally important as we endeavor to develop and expand our programs. I urge you to sign up now, to endorse our platform, keep up with our activities, and perhaps to join in them as well. Do not waste your ability to speak, to act, to make a difference. Remember the motto of the Soviet dissidents, “If not you, who else?”