WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by LaShawn Warren, Chief Policy Officer, in advance of the virtual Global Democracy Summit in Washington on December 9 and 10. At the event, the United States will host representatives from more than 100 countries at a virtual summit designed to promote a “global democratic renewal.”
“While the goal of the Summit is timely and incredibly worthwhile, it is essential to recognize that here in the United States, our own democratic institutions are under attack and severely threatened. The Biden administration and all civic leaders of good faith must acknowledge these threats -- and take urgent action to address them.
“When President Biden announced the Summit last February, he said ‘Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it.’ We could not agree more with this statement.
“In order to defend our own democracy, we must overcome the Senate gridlock and enact the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore federal oversight and ensure that all citizens, particularly Black and Brown people and other marginalized communities, can access the ballot box. And the Senate must also pass the Freedom to Vote Act to thwart the relentless state assault on voting rights. Partisan gerrymandering and the broad voter suppression laws that have been enacted in states across the country—particularly in the South—must be vigorously exposed and addressed to correct the malicious lies that have been raised about the security of our elections and our electoral process.
“It is of the utmost importance to our democracy that, as a nation, we confront and fight back against extremism and anti-democratic actions. Those responsible for the deadly January 6th insurrection must be held accountable and suffer real consequences. It must also be clear to those propagating white supremacist ideas and to violent vigilantes that there is zero tolerance for political-based intimidation and violence.
“To fulfill the full promise of our democracy, it is also necessary to build community resilience against hate, with a particular focus on the systemic racism that supports it. We must ensure that our youth are taught critical thinking skills and digital literacy so they can fend off misinformation and disinformation and online radicalization. It is through inclusive education and teaching the truth about our nation’s history of slavery and oppression that we will truly be able to move forward.
“The Biden administration’s aspiration for global leadership in promoting democracy is admirable. But there is much more work to be done here at home to defend our own democratic institutions and norms - and to counter those intent on destroying them.”
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