Protecting democracy means protecting the rights of all to a free and fair government, as well as the right to be heard. It means defending against attacks on the press, anti-corruption agencies, and independent judiciaries that undercut faith in the rule of law, and it means ensuring that democratic institutions respect human rights.
Democracy is an essential part of the human experience, and it can be undermined by a number of factors. Whether these factors are nation-state cyberattacks or the failure of political parties to deliver policies that meet the needs of poor and minority communities, there is a clear need to take action to defend democracy against attack.
The first and most important line of defense against anti-democratic threats is to protect open and secure political processes, like elections. This requires a variety of actions, such as minimizing gerrymandering, eliminating voter suppression efforts, and establishing a federal task force to address online harassment and abuse of journalists and activists.
This is a difficult and elusive goal, but it is essential. The Electoral College has helped the United States become a world leader in democracy, and a healthy electoral process is crucial to the long-term health of our society.
To ensure the election process is conducted in accordance with democratic norms, it is critical to engage with those whose work is integral to the democratic system: political parties, journalists, and others. Providing legal and technical support to these groups and organizations can be a powerful way to fight back against election interference.
Defending against the threat of violent protest is another essential line of defense against authoritarian minority groups and their supporters. Prosecution and imprisonment of those who would turn to violence must be a top priority for law enforcement and the courts.
The lack of a clear, unified movement of unlikely allies that can speak out in favor of democracy and against violence is a key weakness in our democracy. It is necessary to bring together and mobilize the people who support various pillars of legitimacy, such as religious leaders, the media, business, and police.
Building intraparty and intragroup solidarity is also vital to the prodemocracy movement. This requires attracting the most influential individuals and groups in each of these pillars to vocally join the prodemocracy side, even when that means they may lose their seats in political party leadership or within their social circles.
This requires fostering social groups that are supportive of speaking out for democracy and against violence, such as those that are already strong within the communities most at risk from extremist recruitment and who share values of moderation and inclusion. It also requires reaching a broad audience of voters to build political power, including people of color and those who have traditionally been neglected by the democratic process.
In addition to supporting programs that build political power and promote civic participation, it is important to fund programs that help people to find the information they need about the issues they care about and how their votes will impact their lives. This includes funding for media literacy and training to equip citizens with the tools they need to effectively research their candidates and understand how to engage in the political process.