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TURNING OUT THE YOUTH VOTE

MAY OP ED
by: US Renew Democracy News

In this compelling new Op-Ed, our reporting staff highlights the critical importance of engaging young voters in the upcoming Presidential elections. Addressing issues from climate change to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the piece emphasizes the need for strategic efforts by President Biden and Democrats to secure the youth vote.

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The Politics of Passion, Courtesy of The Ink

SPECIAL GUEST OP ED
by: Anand Giridharadas

In an era defined by Big Feelings and societal upheaval, Anand Giridharadas delves into the dichotomy between the politics of passion embraced by the right and the cerebral approach adopted by today’s electoral left. As millions grapple with anxiety, fear, and existential questions, Giridharadas warns against dismissing the power of emotion and passion in political discourse, highlighting its potential to address the deep-seated uncertainties of our time.

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America’s Declining Global Leadership Role

OP ED
by US Renew Democracy News

As the world transitions into a complex geopolitical era marked by the rise of new powers and diffuse threats, the United States stands at a crossroads of influence and strategy. This Op Ed aims to delve into the nuanced aspects of American foreign policy, reflecting on its historical leadership and envisaging its path forward amidst these evolving challenges.

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Autocracy Now! Examining the Global Surge in Authoritarianism

Autocracy Now!

Examining the Global Surge in Authoritarianism

US Renew Democracy News OP ED | By: Ibrahim Castro | June 04, 2024
Featured Photo: www.carnegieendowment.org

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To be frank with the reader right out of the gate, free and fair democratic governance is in trouble, and unfortunately, there’s no sign it will get any better anytime soon. This article won’t present a take on why democracy is important or even how to combat growing authoritarianism (subjects for another time) but rather why authoritarianism has taken hold in the first place and continues to do so. The past two decades have presented us with an unfortunate series of events wherein countries around the world have experienced continuous democratic backsliding. From the rise of the far-right in Europe to military coups in various African states, and the solidifying of authoritarian rule in Asian countries, the election of fascist-leaning strongmen in America, authoritarianism and autocracy are on the rise. There are, unfortunately, too many contemporary examples to draw from, so this article will make use of only a few countries, mostly current democracies, and their shift towards authoritarian rule.

What’s the current situation?

According to the democracy and human rights research organization Freedom House, a greater number of countries became more authoritarian in 2022 than in any year since 1990, the year before the fall of the Soviet Union. If the decline of democracy continues at the present pace, less than 5% of the world’s population will live in a fully free democracy by 2026.

This topic could be, and perhaps needs, an entire book to fully and appropriately explain the renewed rise of authoritarianism. Each region and each country has its own specific reasons, and yet, as this is a global trend, there are common reasons that can be examined at a macro level to help us understand this shift. This article will use four main factors to provide us with our examples: economics and inequality, globalization, and technology.

Economics and Inequality

Inequality is perhaps the most cited and apparent reason for the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world. People living in poverty experience social exclusion and devaluation, which can be reflected in feelings of shame and abandonment. This shame and abandonment, in turn, are likely to increase support for authoritarianism, mainly due to the promise of social re-inclusion and often take the form of pushing that shame onto an outsider group.

Take a look at Argentina. At the end of 2023, the country had an annual inflation rate of 211%, people were unable to afford basic necessities like food and housing. Then came the newly elected President, Javier Milei, a political outsider who rode to power on the back of voter anger at the worsening economic situation. Along with his economic populism came antagonism to deals and relations with neighboring countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Colombia, anti-abortion rhetoric, the gutting of state services, and the denial of climate change, to name just a few.

In the US, about 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, an issue that impacts both low-wage and high-income families alike, according to new research from LendingClub. While low-wage earners are more likely to live paycheck to paycheck, even 4 in 10 high-income Americans, or those earning more than $100,000, say they’re in the same position. The typical American also, perhaps unsurprisingly, cannot afford to buy a home in a growing number of communities across the country. According to ATTOM researchers, home prices are beyond the reach of 99% of average income earners.

Conditions like these allow politicians like Donald Trump to run on the promise of solving these grievances, bringing the security and peace of mind families across the country desire, while also shifting the blame for the current situation to immigrants and ethnic minorities. Trump recently made statements similar to Nazi Germany’s pure Aryan blood rhetoric, stating that “migrants crossing the southern border are poisoning the blood of America”. He also published a video with words saying the US would be a new “Unified Reich” under his presidency. While some of Trump’s support might be purely due to far-right views, much of his support also rests on the economic uncertainty facing the majority of the population. Whether it’s one or the other reason for the public casting their votes for him, his authoritarian style of governing and policies will follow.

On the other side of the authoritarian spectrum, already governed by authoritarian rule, China has been doing quite well economically for the last few decades. It is now the second-largest economy and plays a larger role in global affairs than ever before. When it was once expected that authoritarian regimes would ultimately collapse under their own repression, its success instead has led to it solidifying authoritarian rule under Xi Jinping. In 2018, China approved the removal of the two-term limit on the presidency, effectively allowing Xi Jinping to remain in power for life. During Xi’s rule, China has clamped down on many freedoms, interned over one million Uighur Muslims in re-education camps, increased its state surveillance and censorship programs, and cracked down on democracy in Hong Kong.

There are numerous examples to draw from; many countries around the world today are facing economic uncertainty, which has pushed them towards strongman leaders promising to provide adequate living conditions for them and their families.

Globalization and Migration

There is compelling evidence that globalization, often working through culture and identity, has played an important role in driving up support for populist movements. International integration, once thought to be an engine for change and unification of the globe, has, at the same time, produced domestic disintegration in many countries, deepening the perception between the winners and the losers of global interconnectedness and competition. A change in migration patterns, which historically went between countries in what is now the global north, Europe, and the US, to the global south has now shifted, to where more irregular immigration occurs from poorer to richer countries. This trend has seen increased numbers of asylum seekers showing up on shores in various countries, whether fleeing war, climate disaster, or economic insecurity, causing huge spikes in support for authoritarian parties in countries across the global north.

Take the example of the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU). The UK’s current far-right conservative party came into power through the promise of Brexit. The Brexit referendum of 2016 represented the worst-case scenario for the European Union in terms of the impact of Euroscepticism and dissatisfaction with global and regional integration. Britain often found the EU’s organization and policies incompatible with its interests. The question of European and non-European immigration in the country became the cornerstone of the right-wings political strategy to push the UK to leave the EU.

The UK may have been the first, but there has been a wave of Eurosceptic parties headed by authoritarian leaders making gains in European elections. They are already in power in places like Victor Orban’s Hungary or Georgia Meloni’s Italy. As regional blocs like the EU were meant to provide unity and ensure that another war did not break out on the continent, dissatisfaction with the EU has continued to rise and has allowed far-right parties to strike up a narrative about returning countries’ sovereignty to themselves and away from centralized unified bodies like the EU headquarters in Brussels. This up until now has not caused a disintegration of the EU but rather helped uplift far-right nationalist leaders across the bloc.

Another factor in aiding authoritarian figures in Europe has been the increase in migrants arriving at the borders of wealthier nations. This issue has become a central theme for much of the 21st century; it has had a sizable impact on the election of far-right-wing parties in Europe and the US. In 2022, Giorgia Meloni won the Italian general election and went on to form Italy’s most right-wing government since Benito Mussolini’s fall during World War II. Italy is the second most indebted state in the Eurozone, and the number of people arriving by boat after crossing the Mediterranean has put pressure on Italian society and created anti-immigrant sentiment in the country that Meloni ran on during her campaign. For example, the number of migrants arriving doubled in 2023, to 106,000, compared to 53,000 over the same period in 2022, according to government data.Italy had been largely left to deal with the issue on its own while facing economic insecurity, sparking the public to shift sharply to the right.

The election of authoritarian leaders in Europe has also legitimized and enabled the funding of other authoritarian leaders in non-European countries. In 2023, Meloni joined European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to strike a controversial pact with Tunisia, exchanging aid funding for stricter efforts to prevent migrants from making the crossing.

Through these pacts, Italy and the EU break international humanitarian law and have helped promote anti-democratic leaders in North African countries Tunisia and Libya (which is currently in a state of civil war and governed by rivaling warlord factions). In 2022, Tunisia’s President Saied transformed Tunisia from a hybrid presidential-parliamentary lead country to a supra-presidential system with nearly unchecked executive authority. A move that mirrored strongman Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempts to consolidate power. Turkey under Erdogan also put in place an EU anti-immigration deal that seeks to have Turkey forcibly block migrants and refugees from reaching Europe in exchange for EU funding.

Technology

Propaganda methods and media have always been used to spread ideas, thoughts, and doctrines. Today, the digital sphere, in addition to all the benefits it provides us, also works as a modern space to disseminate all kinds of extremist propaganda both nationally and internationally. The primary characteristic of all fascist modernizing movements is conformity of thinking and behavior. Online platforms create various echo chambers where fascistic ideas can reverberate, and you can see how individuals, often charismatic individuals, can use these chambers to reflect and enhance a sense that was already there. One recent often-cited example is the 2016 US Presidential election, where Donald Trump used the digital sphere as no one running for office previously had, pushing out populist and extremist messages that uplifted Trump, giving him his cult-like following.

A new and perhaps most problematic factor to technological threats to free and fair democratic rule is the arrival of AI. Something that can also be used to target and manipulate individual voters, based on their individual psychology. This technology is able to produce misinformation that hides in plain sight, producing enormous volumes of content that can flood the media landscape, the internet, and political communication. Instantly producing fake pictures, video, and audio of officials, to news stories.

AI algorithms can be used to surveil and repress dissenting voices. In Israel, to help maintain an apartheid system against Palestinians, Israeli authorities use AI facial recognition to track and impose harsh restrictions on their freedom of movement. Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem and Hebron describe how the omnipresent surveillance system has invaded their privacy, repressed activism, eroded social life, and left them feeling constantly exposed.

A similar technology is used in China’s expansive networks of surveillance cameras in Xinjiang province to monitor the Uighur ethnic minority, profiling them based on their appearance and keeping records of their comings and goings for search and review. These practices prevent them from challenging the status quo, and already are in many instances used upon their own citizenry. Technology has always and will continue to be used in the authoritarian playbook.

Concluding Thought

Once authoritarian leaders come into power, it is difficult to remove them. This article presented examples as to why authoritarian leaders come into power through factors such as economics, globalization and migration, technology, and the normalization of authoritarian policies and leaders. Of course, there are perceived short-term benefits to authoritarian rule. Authoritarian leaders are capable of delivering specific or certain positive programs to their populations in the short term. However, as we have seen throughout history, authoritarian rulers never have the true issues of their citizenry at heart. Normalization of authoritarian rule has and will continue to enable autocratic leaders to continue to expand their reach and power beyond the constraints placed on them, and they will continue to make gains so long as we, proponents of free, fair, and egalitarian societies, let them.

Stay informed with the latest insights from our dedicated reporters by subscribing to the US Renew Democracy Weekly Newsletter. Your support is crucial in safeguarding fearless, independent journalism. If you appreciate our content, please consider donating today to continue in helping to protect democracy and empower citizenship. 

TURNING OUT THE YOUTH VOTE

TURNING OUT THE YOUTH VOTE

MAY OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | May 09, 2024
Featured Photo: www.cnn.com

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President Biden and the Democrats stand at risk of losing the youth vote in the upcoming Presidential elections. Many young people feel alienated by the current electoral contest, featuring a rematch between Biden and Trump seen as aging politicians with few new ideas that appeal.

It would be a mistake for Democrats to write the youth vote off, and an equal mistake for youth to sit on the sidelines in protest. Youth are our country’s future and they need to become engaged (in a positive way) in our political system. Here are some suggestions of steps President Biden and the Democrats can take to persuade young people to vote.

Promote policies that directly benefit young voters:  There are several policy positions that can be promoted in ways that support social and economic benefits for youth and society in general. For example efforts to forgive student loans can be prioritized for students  who went to schools with predatory lending policies; those pursuing public service occupations such as teachers, nurses and the police; and those young people who come from communities that are economically less well off.

Administration efforts to promote reproductive rights can be targeted to the needs of youth for access to contraception, abortion and IVF information and services. Messages promoting reproductive rights can point out how today’s youth deserve information and support on how to make decisions about their own bodies.

Recent surveys indicate that youth today also are interested in climate change, but want to know about solutions to the climate crisis that will work for their communities. Democrats can speak about what the Biden administration has done so far to address climate change and what it plans to do in a next term.

Take a stronger stand on the Israel/Palestine conflict:  Many young people, especially those on college campuses and those from the Middle East, have become engaged in protesting government and university policy towards the Palestinians. They have born witness to the destruction of Gaza and the death of thousands of Palestinians, and believe our government needs smarter policies that address this situation. While continuing to recognize Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, it is time for the Biden administration to take a stronger stand to end this conflict. It should  announce it is in favor of an immediate ceasefire, greater humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Gaza, a two-state political solution, and the decoupling of Israel’s military efforts in Gaza from the use of US military assistance.

Implement targeted youth voter registration efforts:  The Democratic National Committee and lots of state committees and community-based organizations are  planning large voter turnout campaigns for the 2024 elections. These efforts should include a special focus on turning out the youth vote through youth-friendly activities such as social media promotions, youth rallies, and youth-to-youth voter registration efforts

Raise awareness about the dangers of not voting or voting for 3rd party candidates:  2024 youth voter registration efforts should include messaging on the dangers of not-voting at all,  or  voting for 3rd party candidates such as RFK Jr., Cornell West, or Jill Stein. They should make the point that voting for 3rd party candidates, or not voting at all, could hurt Biden and help Trump. And that electing  Trump will likely result in the demise of democracy. Young people should become aware of  Trump’s pro-Israel position on the Israel/Hamas conflict, his disregard of student loan forgiveness, reproductive health rights, and climate change.

Convene a youth advisory panel: The Biden Administration should consider the creation of a Youth  Panel to advise on election issues pertinent to young voters. Such a panel would  have a diverse membership composed of young leaders from different, education, cultural, racial. and socio-economic backgrounds. The panel’s charge would be to advise the campaign on what policies will appeal to young voters, and what activities can help persuade young people to turn out at the ballot box.

Lowering the voting age: The rationale is that youth pay taxes when they work, most carry the responsibility of driving and most are affected by the issue of school shootings, so why not let them have a say by allowing them to vote? Here is a non-profit group’s website on the issue of lowering the voting age to sixteen.

Bring out star power:  Youth often are  influenced by the views and opinions of celebrities from the arts, sports, and fashion worlds. So Democrats should seek  public endorsements from artists such as Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Usher, Bruce Springsteen, and others.  They should participate in voter registration commercials and appear at rallies.

In what many believe to be a close electoral contest, the Biden administration cannot afford to ignore the youth vote. It needs  a comprehensive strategy to raise awareness among young people about the importance of the 2024 election and the need for youth to become engaged.

Stay informed with the latest insights from our dedicated reporters by subscribing to the US Renew Democracy Weekly Newsletter. Your support is crucial in safeguarding fearless, independent journalism. If you appreciate our content, please consider donating today to continue in helping to protect democracy and empower citizenship. 

Suggestions for the Democratic Party’s Foreign Policy Platform

Suggestions for the Democratic Party’s Foreign Policy Platform

OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | March 29, 2024
Featured Photo: www.currentaffairs.org

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We are living in an inter-connected, interdependent world. Any going back to an isolationist foreign policy, as the Republicans seem to suggest, would be unrealistic and counter-productive to US interests. On the other hand continuations of the reckless overseas  military interventions, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, would be greatly unpopular and foolish.

The Democratic Party needs to adopt a foreign policy that combines a continued emphasis on  protecting US national security with a strong commitment to promoting a democratic world order.  We should continue our effort to build alliances with democratic countries to counter the aggressive actions of authoritarian states such as Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and others. We should collaborate with other countries and the United Nations to curtail conflicts within and between nations and address the humanitarian and governance needs of failed states like Haiti, Sudan, and Syria. We should work with like-minded countries to contain the spread of weapons of mass destruction and hopefully eliminate them.

Bringing a just end to  wars in Ukraine and Gaza should be a major goal of US foreign policy. Continued American funding and strategic support for Ukraine in their conflict with Russia should be a top priority. Russia’s expansionist efforts in Ukraine and elsewhere should  be contained. The Biden administration must moderate its weapons support for Israel until and unless they stop their  seemingly genocidal-like war in Gaza. Aid to Palestinians in Gaza must be allowed to flow freely, and the US should join the chorus of other nations advocating for a two state solution to the Palestinian situation. Hamas must be branded as a terrorist organization and their efforts curtailed.

We  should maintain our mixed  policy of cooperation, competition, and containment towards the Chinese. The South China Sea should remain an open waterway, and the independence of Taiwan should be protected. Trade with China should be sanctioned but carefully reviewed to guard against price gouging, US worker displacement and goods that contaminate the environment.

The United States should work to strengthen the fairness and effectiveness of global institutions  starting with the United Nations, and participate their efforts to deal with global issues such as climate change, immigration, world health, human rights, and the misuse of social media.

Stay informed with the latest insights from our dedicated reporters by subscribing to the US Renew Democracy Weekly Newsletter. Your support is crucial in safeguarding fearless, independent journalism. If you appreciate our content, please consider donating today to continue in helping to protect democracy and empower citizenship. 

Political Bipartisanship Needs to be Rescued

Political Bipartisanship Needs to be Rescued

OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | March 06, 2024
Featured Illustration by Ben Wiseman, www.time.com

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From the end of WWII to the conclusion of the Johnson presidency, Republicans and Democrats were able to find common ground on many issues. A great deal of bipartisan legislation was passed. As is all too obvious that no longer is the case. A deep polarization now exists between the two political parties. It’s caused  by Republican efforts to appeal to an alienated  base, the presence of dark money in politics, gerrymandering,  and a fragmented media environment that allows every interest group to hear and watch news that supports their point of view.

The absence of bipartisanship and the polarization of politics gives many Americans the impression that government doesn’t work. It explains whuy some Americans are disillusioned with democracy, and have a misguided interest in authoritarian, more “decisive approaches” to decision-making. If we don’t want this trend  to continue, we need to take steps   to reform our political system, and revive opportunities for bipartisan policy-making.

1. Enact Term Limits:

Many members of Congress  have made their service in the legislature a career. The problem, though, is that good performance alone isn’t what gives them the best chance of keeping their jobs. What is required to win office and stay in office is often at odds with what would be best for the general public. When the priority of members of Congress is to win elections, rather than serve the people, things can quickly go awry Placing limits on the number of terms members of Congress can serve will help reduce the need for Senators and Representatives to constantly  cast votes to curry favor with their base rather than do the right thing.

2. Reform Campaign Finance: The campaign finance system is broken.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United vs FEC case effectively blocked the ability to enact limits on campaign spending. The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to the billions of dollars that have since poured into the election system, enabling those with access to concentrated wealth to have vastly more influence over our political system than the average American.  The repeal of the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, will lessen the control that dark money and superPACs have on the political decisions of our Congressmen and women

3. Increase Opportunities for Ballot Initiatives and Referendum

In the politics of the United States, the process of initiatives and referendums allow citizens of many U.S. states to place legislation on the ballot for a referendum or popular vote, either enacting new legislation, or voting down existing legislation. Citizens, or an organization, might start an initiative to gather a predetermined number of signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. The measure is placed on the ballot for the referendum, or actual vote. The process allows citizens the ability to take initiatives that circumvent a gridlocked government

4. Enact Voting System Reforms

A thorough reimagining of the electoral process is the best hope for reversing the decline of confidence in U.S. elections and their outcomes. , depressing voter turnout, and exacerbating the risks of contentious outcomes fought through court appeals and public protests. In many states there is a need to enact voting system reform, for example overhauling the regulations surrounding voter registration and balloting, and assuring independent, impartial and professional electoral management. Ranked choice voting that allows voters to prioritize their support for different candidates, is a an approach used in several states to help expand the base of support for winning candidates

5. Eliminate Gerrymandering

Redistricting is a legal requirement to periodically redraw the maps of state districts based on changes in populations. The redistricting process is supposed to ensure that everyone is fairly represented. However because the power to redistrict often rests in the hands of politicians, gerrymandering has become another means of supporting partisan decision-making. A way to combat gerrymandering is to limit the power of self-interested politicians in the mapmaking process. This can be done through the use of Independent Redistricting Commissions (IRCs), separate bodies from the state legislature that are responsible for drawing the districts used in congressional and state legislative elections. Several states, such as Michigan and Colorado have begun to use IRCs to guide their redistricting efforts.

6. Hold Judges Accountable:

There are several ways in which judges can abuse their authority, including: failure to disclose a conflict of interest; improper communication about a case; improper political activities. A Code of Ethics that holds all judges, including members of the Supreme Court, accountable for ethics violations, will help dissuade judges from making opinions that satisfy the partisan interests of those that provide them with extra-judicial perks and benefits. A credible independent body that has the power to enforce such a Code of Ethics needs to be established.

Taking steps, such as those listed above, should help support a renewed framework of bipartisan decision-making. However, they won’t completely fix the problem. Americans of all political persuasions also need to see that political decision-making requires give-and-take and compromise; that all people want to the same things in life, and that if we can at least sometimes put country over party, it’s possible for all of us and our children to enjoy  a satisfying and sustainable  way of life.

Stay informed with the latest insights from our dedicated reporters by subscribing to the US Renew Democracy Weekly Newsletter. Your support is crucial in safeguarding fearless, independent journalism. If you appreciate our content, please consider donating today to continue in helping to protect democracy and empower citizenship. 

The Politics of Passion, Courtesy of The Ink

The Politics of Passion

SPECIAL GUEST OP ED | By: Anand Giridharadas (Courtesy of The Ink) | March 06, 2024
Featured Photo taken from: www.zebra.com

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One of the strange dynamics of the Trump era is that, as the right has become, more and more, a movement of passion more than reason, of emotional appeal more than policy solutions, the political left has, as if to be symmetrical, drifted the other way.

Today’s electoral left is highly cerebral. It is suspicious of the politics of passion. It doesn’t do emotional appeals. It doesn’t have much of a role for music, for the body, for in-person communing in public spaces, for catchy slogans, for arresting visuals. The more Trump becomes a carnival barker, the more it seems leaders on the left embrace coming across like the inoffensive heads of state one sees in many European capitals — people who are working very hard not to be interesting, who seem to associate life force in politics with danger. Today’s left seeks to appeal to human beings through a small sliver of all the ways in which human beings take in the world.

If this were an age defined by big policy questions and little else, that would be one thing. But it is an age defined by Big Feelings. By anxiety and fear and future dread and a great confusion among millions of people about who they will be on the far side of head-spinning change. By the emotional crises of men unsettled by a future of gender equality, and of white people unsettled by a future of racial equality, and of young people who know deep down that their parents love them but wonder why they have left them a burning, doomed planet. By the dour vibes of people who know that, on paper, the economy is good, but who cannot shake the feeling that the American dream is a lie. All around us, people are lost, not sure how to make sense of their place in a world of upheaval. In an era such as this, leaving the politics of emotion, of passion, to aspiring autocrats is a dangerous abdication.

Discover more editorials from Anand by visiting and exploring The Ink for a wealth of thought-provoking, passionate political commentary. Stay informed with the latest insights from our dedicated reporters by subscribing to the US Renew Democracy Weekly Newsletter. Your support is crucial in safeguarding fearless, independent journalism, so please consider donating today to contribute to protecting democracy and empowering citizenship.

America’s Declining Global Leadership Role

America’s Declining Global Leadership Role

OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | January 17, 2024
Photo taken from: www.lowyinstitute.org

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As the world transitions into a complex geopolitical era marked by the rise of new powers and diffuse threats, the United States stands at a crossroads of influence and strategy. Since the end of World War II, it has wielded considerable influence through its military might, economic prowess, and cultural appeal. However, the emergence of multipolar dynamics, cybersecurity threats, and shifting economic landscapes necessitates a reevaluation of its global strategy. This Op Ed aims to delve into the nuanced aspects of American foreign policy, reflecting on its historical leadership and envisaging its path forward amidst these evolving challenges.

Before we evaluate America’s role in the world, it’s crucial to broaden our definition of leadership. Global leadership in today’s world must extend beyond military might and economic leverage to include  strong moral character. This entails championing democratic governance, respecting human rights, ensuring equality of opportunity, and uniformly advocating for essential services like education and health care for all. Such leadership also involves fostering collaborative relationships among nations, adhering to the rule of law, and seeking peaceful resolutions to conflicts. We are no longer just a collection of sovereign states, although some might think and pretend we are. We lie in an inter-dependent inter-connected world.

As we look at current global and foreign policy issues, it appears as if tragically  the moral character of  America’s  leadership status in the world has begun to slip, as the following what have we done wrong  examples illustrate.

Analysis—What Have We Done Wrong

Failing to do more to address the rise of autocracies: Over the past twenty years the world has witnessed the rise of autocratic governments. China and Russia are perhaps the largest autocratic powers but many other countries are following suit, challenging the moral character of America and other democracies. Quite often these autocracies are built on the strength of charismatic personalities, such as Trump, Bolsonaro or Milei who have little political knowledge and experience but are able to generate a tidal wave of populist support.  The United States has been trying to stand up to these autocratic powers, mainly by exercising its military strength and economic might. While this seems to be a bottom line needed approach to deal with issues such as Ukraine and Taiwan, it needs to be coupled with support for democratization in these countries, and the building of democratic alliances as the US has been doing recently with NATO.

Inconsistent human rights policies: Most people, even non-Americans understand that the United States has long positioned itself as a champion of human rights and democracy. Yet, this stance is often juxtaposed against geopolitical realities. For example, in navigating relations with strategic partners like Saudi Arabia, the U.S. faces the challenge of balancing its advocacy for human rights with pragmatic considerations of security and economic interests. Global events, such as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the recent suppression of democratic movements in Hong Kong, further test the U.S.’s resolve and approach. It is imperative that U.S. policy not only addresses these issues but also reflects a consistent and committed stance on promoting human rights universally.

Turning our backs on immigration: A strong pro-immigration policy used to be one of America’s strengths. We are known as a land of immigrants. But no longer. In recent years the US has seen a movement towards more restrictive immigration  policies, marked by tightened regulations and a heated public discourse. This shift represents a larger trend of nationalism and skepticism towards globalization. The tightening of U.S. borders, the controversial debates over DACA and the travel ban, and the overall portrayal of immigrants in political rhetoric have raised questions about the nation’s historical identity as a melting pot. The implications of these policies extend beyond domestic politics, affecting international relations, and the U.S.’s reputation as a land of opportunity and refuge.

Trying to have it both ways on climate change: Global warming, climate change, and the loss of biological diversity are issues that affect the quality of life in all countries. The United States was one of the countries originally responsible for raising global awareness about these issues, and bringing countries together to sign the landmark Paris Agreement. However, under President Trump the US ceded its leadership role in global environmental policy. The Biden Administration has sought to reverse this trend and passed a major piece of legislation aimed at bringing the US in line with the global goal of creating a carbon neutral world by 2050 and restoring biodiversity

However, domestic challenges remain, particularly in balancing environmental policies with economic interests. The debate over energy policy, especially in the context of the shale gas revolution and the Keystone XL pipeline, underscores the complex interplay between economic growth and environmental stewardship; they highlight the challenges the U.S. faces in balancing these two critical aspects.

Failing to address the global challenges of technology: The world currently is facing unprecedented global leadership policy challenges related to seemingly ever-growing use of technology. The role of artificial intelligence, the threat to people’s privacy and security, the use of misinformation and fake news are but a few of the technology issues that all countries are facing. The United States, the European Union and others are making initial attempts to develop regulations to deal with these issues; but ultimately they need to be addressed at a global level. America has an opportunity to provide the leadership that’s needed to bring countries together and develop a set of regulations that can protect privacy, dispel fake news, and guard against the abuses of AI.

The U.S. should develop a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy. This strategy should prioritize public-private partnerships and international collaboration, focusing on safeguarding critical infrastructure and setting even higher global standards for cyber conduct.

The Root Cause:  Political Divisiveness and A Failure to Address the Importance of Global Engagement 

Internal political divisiveness is a major reason America’s global leadership role is in decline.  The ‘America First’ doctrine, characterized by skepticism towards multilateral agreements and an emphasis on national interests, has led to a reevaluation of international commitments. While it is essential for the U.S. to protect its sovereignty and security, excessive America firstness challenges our role as a global leader. Retreating from international accords and institutions not only affects global governance but also raises questions about the future of international cooperation and American leadership in the world. We are living in a highly connected inter-dependent world, and American foreign policy needs to do more to reflect this.

Internal policy factors seem to be propelling a noticeable drift towards authoritarianism and a retreat from cooperative internationalism. Countries that once looked to the U.S. as a model for democracy are now witnessing its internal struggles and questioning its commitment to global democratic ideals. The U.S. must navigate this era of rising autocrats and declining democratic norms by reaffirming its commitment to democratic values and strengthening its alliances. This includes addressing domestic issues of polarization and governance that undermine its international credibility and leadership.

In redefining its role for a complex future, the United States must consolidate its historical influence with a renewed commitment to moral and ethical leadership. This entails not only advocating for human rights and strengthening international institutions, but also proactively addressing the challenges of a multipolar world and the domestic implications of global policies. Recognizing the need for a dynamic and responsive foreign policy, the U.S. should prioritize diplomatic engagement, technological innovation, and a steadfast adherence to global cooperation and responsibility.

By embracing flexibility alongside a firm commitment to its foundational values, the U.S. can navigate the evolving geopolitical landscape, fostering stability, and prosperity in an interconnected world. As it stands at the crossroads of tradition and transformation, the U.S.’s pursuit of a balanced, principled, and forward-looking strategy will be imperative in shaping a more peaceful and sustainable planet.

Engagement Resources

  • Council on Foreign Relations (cfr.org): Offers in-depth analysis and resources on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs.
  • Brookings Institution (brookings.edu): Provides research and policy recommendations on various aspects of U.S. foreign policy and global economic issues.
  • The Aspen Institute (aspeninstitute.org): Engages in policy discussions on various global issues, including U.S. leadership and international relations.
  • The Atlantic Council (atlanticcouncil.org): Focuses on international affairs, providing analysis and policy solutions for U.S. engagement in global challenges.

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SUGGESTIONS FOR A BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MIDEAST PEACE PLAN

SUGGESTIONS FOR A BIDEN ADMINISTRATION MIDEAST PEACE PLAN

OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | December 18, 2023
Photo taken from: https://www.vox.com

This is the 4th in a series of US RENEW DEMOCRACY NEWS recommendations of platform positions for use by 2024 Democratic Party candidates.

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The world needs voices of reason, compromise, and settlement to extricate us out of the quagmire of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The main combatants—Israelis and Hamas— are too invested to sort  things out on their own. They need help.

Hamas’s October 7th terrorist attack may have set off this most recent round of hostilities but the resentments and suspicions between Jews and Palestinians go back millennia as these two semitic tribes have struggled to  coexist in this region. To put more blame on one side than the other is a waste of time. However, at this point neither side is willing to accept a position of shared responsibility and are going to need the intervention of a third party to assert this and coordinate the way forward. With the UN being sidelined by dysfunction, and  other Arab nations embroiled in their own intra-religious disputes, the US is a likely suspect to step into this leadership gap.

So what should the US do: first it needs to form a coalition of allies interested in the redevelopment of Gaza and a two-state solution. The EU and other European nations would probably be interested; as would neighboring Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.

Secondly, The Coalition needs to declare Gaza a demilitarized zone where warfare, the use of military weapons and the existence of terrorist organizations is prohibited. The Coalition can recruit, train, and manage a small interim police force to keep the peace.

Third, The Coalition should raise funds and manage an effort to redevelop Gaza. This will include the rebuilding of roads, buildings and infrastructure (including water, fuel, and electricity) and the re-establishment of essential  social services such as hospitals and schools. Consideration should be given to providing small reparation grants  to families who have lost loved ones as a result of the conflict. Further consideration should be given to provide all Gazans with access to a basic income for a limited period of time.

Fourth, The Coalition should supervise elections in Palestine (West Bank  and Gaza together) for candidates and parties that offer proposals for leading a unified, democratic  Palestine committed to a Two-State Solution. Terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, or organizations supporting hatred of Jews and Israel, would be prohibited from participating. Israel would be encouraged to support its own similar elections.

Finally, the Coalition would support the organization of a Palestinian state, consisting of the West Bank and Gaza, that would co-exist with the state of Israel. Israel would keep its present territory but the development of any new settlements would be prohibited. Jerusalem would be divided between West (Israeli) and East (Palestinian). The Coalition, perhaps in collaboration with the UN, would supervise the implementation of the 2-State Solution for an initial 10 year period. A special judicial panel would be established to adjudicate any disputes between the 2 countries.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM SUGGESTIONS PART 3: IMMIGRATION


DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM SUGGESTIONS PART 3: IMMIGRATION

OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | October 16, 2023
Photo taken from: npr.org

This is the 3rd in a series of US RENEW DEMOCRACY NEWS recommendations of platform positions for use by 2024 Democratic Party candidates.

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US immigration policy is in disarray. The number of immigrants crossing our border and coming not just to border states but to practically everywhere in the country is growing. The Republicans are sure to try and target immigration as a major issue in the 2024 elections. To head off their assault Democrats must take the lead in advocating for  immigration reform legislation; if not comprehensive reform (which may be difficult because there are so many moving parts) at least reform that addresses the missing pieces in the current system.. How should they do it? What should they emphasize? US RENEW NEWS makes the following suggestions.

 

1. Emphasize the we are a nation of immigrants; that all of us are descendants of people from other countries, many of who whom were fleeing war, political and religious persecution; that immigrants are part of the fabric of American life.

 

2. Emphasize that and that the United states needs to keep its doors open as a beacon of hope and opportunity for those living in less fortunate circumstances than we are; that we are living in a time of global upheaval where people are being uprooted from their lands because of war, conflict, authoritarian rule, climate change and other factors.

 

3. Emphasize that our country’s growth and vitality is dependent on the hard-work and entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants; that there are many occupational needs going unfulfilled that immigrants have and can provide.

 

4. Emphasize that immigration has limits; that we cannot accept everyone all the time all at once; that we need to have an orderly fair and just process for admitting people and giving them opportunities to earn their citizenship; and that the process is dependent in large part on how many immigrants we can reasonably support.

 

5. That immigration cannot be used as a means to house terrorists, criminals, and human rights abusers.

 

6. That immigration is a combined responsibility of federal state and local governments, with the federal government making most policies, establishing immigration laws, and assisting the states in their efforts to support the economic and social needs of the newly arrived.

 

7. States that intentionally interfere with the immigration efforts of other states, without their permission, are doing so illegally are in conflict with federal policy, and should be fined.

 

8. In these times federal immigration aid to states needs to be greatly and rapidly increased.

 

9. Federal and state governments need to greatly and rapidly increase the  numbers of professionals handling immigration affairs, including border patrol officers, judges, social workers, and others. These professionals need to be added in order to shorten the time required to process asylum seekers and immigrant requests, and care and service immigrants to help ensure their smooth transition into American life.

 

10. Emphasize the distinction between documented and undocumented immigrants, and take steps needed to reduce the numbers of undocumented immigrants.

 

11. Temporary housing and shelter for immigrants needs to be adequate, humane and meet basic health and safety standards. Children without parents or guardians need to be provided with foster care.

 

12. Waiting times to seek approval or disapproval for entry need to be kept to a minimum; as does the time before a newly arrived documented immigrant can work and be eligible for government benefits.

 

13. Dreamers, the children of immigrants, born outside the US but who arrived in the US before the age of 16, need to be granted access to citizenship as soon as possible.

 

14. Priority for work visas should continue to be granted to immigrants with needed job and technical skills.

 

15. The United States needs to do more to coordinate its immigration policy with other countries. For example, immigrants should be encouraged to apply for entry to the US in their country of origin, if that country has a US embassy.

 

16. The US needs to work to strengthen global immigration laws and governance, so that immigration becomes a shared responsibility of all countries.

 

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM SUGGESTIONS PART 2: HEALTHCARE

DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM SUGGESTIONS: PART 2: HEALTHCARE

OP ED | By: US Renew Democracy News | July 11, 2023
Photo taken from: nytimes.com

This is the 2nd in a series of US RENEW NEWS recommendations of platform positions for use by 2024 Democratic Party candidates.

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The US healthcare system is extremely fragmented. Healthcare access varies from state to state and according to income level and racial and ethnic background.  We suffer from high rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes,  kidney and lung disease and stroke. Mental health problems and drug addictions are widespread.  Abortion recently has been stripped of its country-wide right by the Supreme Court. With the recent notable exception of insulin, most prescription drug prices are unregulated. Our public health system seems unprepared to deal with new diseases and pandemics.

The misshapen, unequal state of our health system calls out for the Democrats to make universal access to affordable health care (Medicare for All) a central part of their 2024 election platform. At the core of the platform should be a call for healthcare to be embraced as a basic human right,  be it through legislative action or a constitutional amendment. And a related call should be made for continued support for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) until Medicare for All becomes a reality.

The call for reproductive rights for women and the Supreme Court Dobbs decision (that reversed the Supreme Court’s decades long support for abortion as a federal right) should be another major component of the Democratic platform.

 Dobbs has proven to be a highly unpopular decision among women of all backgrounds. Coming out against Dobbs will help promote the turnout of women voters for Democratic candidates.

Democrats should announce their intention to build on the Biden administration’s success in reducing insulin prices and call for reductions in other widely used but overpriced drugs. They also should turn their attention to stronger regulation of drugs that do us harm, such as opioids.

The Party platform also might consider putting greater emphasis on preventive health care measures to help address the growing incidence of mental health behavioral problems and obesity in our country.  Such measures should also call for greater promotion of the use of existing and new vaccines that have proven to be effective in preventing disease, such as the Covid vaccine

And finally the party needs to give serious consideration to labeling gun violence as a public health issue that should be addressed by health professionals as well as law enforcement officials.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY 2024 PLATFORM SUGGESTIONS PART 1: EDUCATION

DEMOCRATIC PARTY 2024 PLATFORM SUGGESTIONS

Op Ed | By: US Renew Democracy News | June 2023
Photo taken from: syracuse.com

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PART 1: EDUCATION

This is the first in a series of US RENEW NEWS recommendations of platform positions for use by 2024 Democratic Party candidates.

Democrats should counter Republican curriculum interference and book banning and strike a positive tone about the needs for all children in the United States to have access to a quality education. The Democratic platform should identify the goals such as quality education and the means of achieving those goals.

Goals: 

To enable students to access a quality education that prepares them for work, family life, and citizenship in a democratic society. Such an education should include having the ability to read and write, do basic mathematics;   learn how to problem-solve and make up your own mind on important issues; understand the scientific method and how science works;  understand your roles as a citizen in a democracy and how your government works;  master digital literacy skills that enable students to smartly navigate the Internet and social media; have an appreciation for the arts; have the skills and knowledge needed to enter the job market; be physically fit and have balanced nutrition.

Means of Achieving Goals

In order to achieve these goals students should have access the following:

  • A universal pre-Kindergarten instructional program
  • Quality learning materials and school facilities
  • Well paid and well trained teachers
  • Classrooms that reflect the diversity of people in their community, including those who are disabled
  • Instruction that stimulates discussion and debate and respect for  different people, ideas and points of view; that does not promote one religion but supports respect for different religious points of views
  • A special instructional program for those who are physically or mentally disabled

There should be an effort to provide all schools in each district with the same facility infrastructure, and level out the distribution of school finances. Alternatives to basing school funding solely on the property tax should be explored.

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