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Why Joe Biden's 'Summit for Democracy' is Facing Criticism From All Directions

© CHIP SOMODEVILLAU.S. President Joe Biden delivers opening remarks for the virtual Summit for Democracy in the South Court Auditorium on December 09, 2021 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers opening remarks for the virtual Summit for Democracy in the South Court Auditorium on December 09, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.12.2021
US President Joe Biden's "Summit for Democracy" has exposed a growing polarisation between the left and the right in the US, with domestic and global observers suggesting that Washington cannot solve global problems until it sorts out its own messes at home.
US President Joe Biden's "Summit for Democracy", held on 9-10 December, has come under criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

US Conservatives: Biden is 'Hijacking Democracy'

US Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) denounced the summit's agenda as "one long, anti-American tirade by the president of the United States and various members of his administration".
"They don't like American voting laws, they don't like American history, they want to rewrite our culture and completely change it", Hawley said, referring to the Democratic Party's Voting Rights Bill which, according to the GOP, is seeking to boost federal government control over elections and democratic rights of US states.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham echoed Hawley's concerns suggesting that Biden and Democrats are continuing to "hijack democracy", underscoring that the title of the US president's virtual summit is a "misnomer".
In particular, Ingraham asked why Biden was lending a sympathetic ear to European Union leader Ursula von der Leyen's proposals with regard to toughening regulations surrounding "hate speech".

"I'm going to trust [Ursula von der Leyen] to regulate hate speech? OK – A transnational, undemocratic body that is totally unaccountable to the voters in their own country imposing speech restrictions to punish their political opponents", Ingraham offered, later suggesting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Biden, and other prominent Democrats "would love nothing more than to do the same [in the US] and they are trying to".

Previously, top Democrats praised Big Tech for banning former US President Donald Trump from their platforms, as well as his more ardent conservative supporters. Some in the GOP remain suspicious of the Dem-led House Selective Committee's efforts to crack down on Trump's former aides and alleged supporters over the 6 January Capitol riot in Washington, suggesting that it is political persecution.
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US Doesn't Export Democracy But Colour Revolutions

Ron Paul, a retired American politician who served as the US representative for Texas' 22nd congressional district, earlier dubbed Biden's democracy summit "a joke".
"This is not about promoting democracy. It's really about undermining democracy worldwide with US interventionist foreign policy", Paul wrote in an op-ed. "Yes, the conference is anti-democracy, not pro-democracy".
Paul drew attention to Biden's list of participants which, in his view, was composed of those who "do the bidding of the United States — disregarding the wishes of those who elected them". In contrast, Paul suggested, those who conduct an independent foreign policy were "not allowed into Washington's sandbox to play".
The US president's choice of participants prompted controversy. Biden snubbed China while inviting Taiwan, an island nation considered by Beijing as its own. While asking Central and Eastern European countries to participate in the virtual venue, the White House did not invite Hungary. Russia also did not receive an invitation from the US.
While Biden insisted on the necessity of renewing and promoting democracy and human rights during the summit "color revolutions, where elected governments are overthrown with US backing, is about the only thing the US exports these days", stated Paul.

"For Washington, democracy means 'you elect who we tell you to elect'", the Republican politician remarked.

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Liberals and Progressives: Biden Summit is All Talk and No Action

Liberal observers do not appear to be satisfied with Biden's "Summit for Democracy" either. Uriel Epshtein, executive director of the Renew Democracy Initiative, and Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López criticised Biden in a CNN op-ed titled "What's missing from Biden's democracy summit".
According to Epshtein and López, Biden's virtual gathering was all talk and no action. Even if Biden's group of democracies comes with workable recommendations, it does not have the mechanisms to implement it, some observers wrote.

To fulfill its promise, "Biden's summit should not only showcase bold ideas to promote freedom" but also create a "clear system for implementation", they said. Some cited late Arizona Senator John McCain's idea to form a "League of Democracies" that could replace the UN: "The United Nations is […] not the best global body to promote these democratic ideas", claimed Epshtein and López.

Aleksandar Hemon of Princeton University, Aida A. Hozic of the University of Florida, and Srdjan Vucetic of the University of Ottawa warned that "democracy is in trouble, and Biden's summit is not going to fix it", in an op-ed published by Politico.

"Critically, even the host of the summit has plenty of problems at home", the scholars wrote. "After all, the gathering is taking place at a time when the American right wing itself is deeply divided over the benefits of liberal democracy".

Academics noted that the Biden summit is "facing criticism from all directions". According to them, if Biden and other participants of the summit are "at all serious" they must "aggressively support progressive democratic forces" in the US and elsewhere.
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Growing Dissatisfaction With Western Model of Democracy

Time magazine, which in January 2020 enthusiastically praised Biden's win over Donald Trump, published an op-ed titled "Joe Biden's Democracy Summit Is the Height of Hypocrisy". The author, award-winning journalist Debasish Roy Chowdhury, noted that there is a "growing perception that something is broken about the Western model [of democracy]".
To illustrate his point, the journalist quoted a 2014 study by political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page which indicated that Americans over two decades have had little if any influence on how nearly 1,800 political issues were handled by US politicians and small elite groups.
In October 2021, 85% of American poll respondents said that their political system needs to change, noted Chowdhury. Meanwhile, the share of individuals polled who say they are "dissatisfied" with democracy jumped from 47.9% in the mid-1990s, to 57.5% in 2019, the journalist observed, citing a study by the University of Cambridge.

"They are thoroughly disillusioned with their governing structures, and it's not because China and Russia promise a better alternative and have successfully conspired to erode trust in democracy. It's because of what democracies have done to themselves", Chowdhury wrote. "There is no global contest between democracy and autocracy. The struggle is entirely internal and it's silly to pretend otherwise".

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