If you’ve lived in a free country all your life…

You may not know what it’s like to lose it. Or how quickly it can be taken away.

 

Ira Schwarz/AP

Ira Schwarz/AP

 

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction... It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

President Ronald Reagan


A democracy alone isn’t enough.

A democracy guarantees elections. That’s it.

A liberal democracy guarantees fair elections where no group is marginalized and key values are respected. It says that all people are created equal, and that you can have different groups with different interests —and all are legitimate. The government is there to serve the people. Not the other way around.

If a leader openly talks about marginalizing or disenfranchising a group of people during elections, or advocates limiting fundamental freedoms like the freedom of speech, or tries to infringe upon other key values—they can be described as “illiberal” or trying to move the country towards becoming an “illiberal democracy.”

Our founders warned us that such a democracy could devolve into “a tyranny of the majority,” where 51% of citizens can oppress the remaining 49%.

 

Why fight for liberal democracy

“The global spread of democracy once seemed unstoppable,” as explained in Fight for Liberty.

But times have changed. The stability of democracy is now in question.

Only 40% of Americans say they’re satisfied with American democracy right now, according to the 2018 American Institutional Confidence Poll, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Georgetown University’s Baker Center for Leadership and Governance.

In 2017, for the 12th consecutive year, countries that suffered democratic setbacks outnumbered those that registered gains, according to the Freedom House’s survey “Democracy in Crisis.”

 
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Democratic countries all over the world are becoming more polarized and are seeing public support for their liberal democratic institutions drop. (The U.S., The U.K., Brazil, Hungary, Poland.)

Signs of rising populism:

    • Simple solutions to complex problems
    • Exploitation of people's fears
    • Groups rallying against groups, blaming each other for any and all problems
    • Villification of political opponents
    • Distrust of the media
 

Populism preys on people’s fear.

Democratic principles protect all people’s rights, even if they’re different.
Populism divides and says one group is "pure" and the other's "corrupt".
Populists demonize any person or group who doesn't fit the will of their People.
If a group goes against them, they are the enemy.

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“Once you give power to the government, it is nearly impossible to get it back, and it will be used in ways you cannot expect.”

Garry Kasparov, Chairman of Renew Democracy Initiative and the Human Rights Foundation



To protect the rights of all people, the key values of a liberal democracy are:

  1. Freedom of the press, speech, conscience, religion, and assembly

  2. Integrity and fairness of elections

  3. Equal justice under the law

  4. Separation of powers with a strong independent Judiciary

  5. Equality of opportunity

  6. Ability to do business free from corruption or excessive government intervention

  7. Spirited defense of democracy against threats by authoritarian actors 

  8. Free flow of goods, services, capital, and ideas across borders

  9. A rational and humane immigration policy

  10. A representative Democracy that makes government accountable to its citizens and ensures that citizens feel fairly treated and represented by their government

  11. Civil discussion of controversial political issues and respect for due process

I agree to these principles. What’s next?