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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: democracy

Biden: To Defend Democracy, We Must Extend Democracy

“You are either with us, or with the terrorists.”

That’s how President George W. Bush framed the challenge just after 9/11. Bush went on to make some terrible decisions, including to invade a country—Iraq—that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack on the United States. But at the time, the clarity of those words was bracing.

Now, 21 years later, President Biden has done something similar in response to today’s threat. He has properly framed the great political challenge of our time, not just for the 2022 and 2024 elections but through at least the middle part of the 21st Century, when Donald Trump’s cult followers will still be roaming the land.

Biden was basically saying, You are either with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that were written just behind me—that’s “us”—or you are with the political terrorists who use fear and threats of violence to get their way. There’s no middle ground.

In parliamentary systems, politics is mostly about building coalitions. American politics requires that, too, but here politicians prevail by invoking our ideals, drawing lines, framing issues, stigmatizing the other side. Biden did all of that in his fine speech. He finally recognized that his gauzy message of unity was obsolete amid the Democracy Crisis (and yes, let’s start capitalizing it). So he jettisoned it in favor of the unvarnished truth.

When Biden first started calling Trumpsters “MAGA Republicans,” I thought it was too soft and abstract. I was wrong. The term simultaneously recognizes that the threat will last longer than Trump himself and leaves room for respecting patriotic Republicans. It will live in the American political lexicon forever.

It doesn’t matter that most TV viewers were watching Press Your Luck, Young Sheldon or a Law and Order rerun, or that much of the press dismissed the speech as a political pep rally, or that the usual rightwing blowhards were projecting again with their nonsense about Biden being the bad guy. The president hammered the new frame into wall, where it will hang just fine:

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people.”

“The Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.”

In early August, Biden met with a group of historians. They drew his attention to two other historic inflection points: 1860, when Abraham Lincoln ran for president after warning that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and 1940, a period described by historian Lynn Olson as “those angry days,” when emotions ran so high for and against intervention to stop Hitler that Arthur Schlesinger later said it was the most bitter struggle of his lifetime—worse than McCarthyism or fights over the Vietnam War.

I take no comfort from those historical analogies because both were only resolved by violence. In 1861, Southerners refused to accept Lincoln’s election and launched the Civil War. And in 1941, it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—not FDR’s speeches about the importance of democracy—that ended the acrimony over intervention.

This time, we need to protect democracy peacefully. That means exercising it in the courtroom—by proving that even presidents aren’t above the law—and at the ballot box, where a big turnout can save the day. “We need everyone to do their part,” Biden said. “So speak up. Speak out. Get engaged. Vote, vote, vote.” It’s like the principle of fighting bad speech with good speech. The only way to defend democracy is to extend democracy.

This won’t be easy, and not just because the Orange Menace has the survival skills of a feral animal. As Biden put it, MAGA Republicans believe it’s “either we win or we were cheated.” A crisis that began with one megalomaniac’s refusal before the 2020 election to commit to the peaceful transfer of power has become the animating principle of what was once the party of Lincoln.

Biden’s speech should help Democrats build on their momentum this fall. His aim is not persuasion but mobilization—to place democracy itself on the ballot so that so-called “sporadic” Democratic voters (who usually vote only quadrennially), elusive independents and patriotic Republicans (about 20-30 percent of the GOP are pro-democracy) understand that this is not just another boring midterm election. Even if voters don’t like him, Biden reasoned, they like Trump less, and fear giving MAGA Republicans the keys to the car. In a new NBC News poll, “threats to democracy” passed inflation as the number one issue for voters in both parties—69 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans placed it first. Of the latter, it’s hard to know how many are Liz Cheney Republicans and how many are more of the Kari Lake fascist variety, who believe “threats” are indistinguishable from “Democrats.”

A Biden-Trump rematch, in absentia, since neither is on the ballot in 2022, looks good for Democrats. Biden leads Trump by six points in a new Wall Street Journal poll, which also shows independents trending toward the Democrats. That’s because wedge politics—using an emotional issue to energize supporters and divide the other party—works, even in an uncertain economy. It was once a Republican speciality. Now the Big Wedge is wielded by Democrats. It seems that democracy, of all things, has the potential to deliver some stinging losses to the GOP.

An instinct for democracy can also help create unscripted, authentic moments that people remember. When a protester in Philadelphia first started shouting at the president through a bullhorn, I was hoping someone would politely escort him out of earshot. Biden knew better. He deftly incorporated the heckling into his message: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.” And then he tapped into the sense of decency that powers the pro-democracy movement: “Good manners is nothing they’ve ever suffered from.” Perfect.

Contrast that to Trump shouting at his 2016 rallies, “Get him the hell out of here! Get him out of here! Throw him out!” in Alabama or “I’d like to punch him in the face” in Las Vegas, where he reminisced, “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

Unfortunately, Biden missed a chance to drive home an even sharper contrast. At one point, he said, “They [MAGA Republicans] look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.”

This would have been the perfect place to refer to Trump saying earlier in the day on a rightwing radio show that if he's reelected, he will offer “full pardons with an apology to many” of the insurrectionists. Pardons to people convicted of viciously assaulting Capitol police officers? This will be a great issue for Democrats. It crystallizes Trump’s contempt for law enforcement and lack of patriotism. As Biden explained, ”You can’t love your country only when you win."

The president was right to strike a hopeful tone. Even when it rang false (“I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future”), he grasped the importance of connecting Americans to our idealized version of ourselves.

For years, Biden has ended his speeches by saying “And may God protect our troops.” Now, with the war in Afghanistan over and a new crisis looming at home, he has amended that. He concluded the most important speech of his presidency this way:

“And may God protect our nation. And may God protect all those who stand watch over our democracy. God bless you all.”

Then one final word:

“Democracy.”

Jonathan Alter, a political analyst for MSNBC, writes the Old Goats newsletter on Substack. His most recent book is His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life.

Reprinted with permission from OLD GOATS with Jonathan Alter.



Will Americans Heed Biden's Plea To Defend Democracy?

Decades from now, Joe Biden's errors may not be forgotten, whether they relate to Afghanistan, the border or inflation. But whatever Biden has gotten wrong, posterity will remember that he was right about one critical matter: the dangers to democracy that arose in our time.

His prime-time address Thursday was a milestone of a regrettable sort: an American president feeling compelled to warn of a mortal threat to our form of government — not from foreign enemies but from Americans. Biden was elected partly because of public recognition that Donald Trump was at war with the foundational ideals of this country.

But that war continued beyond the election, till Jan. 6 and after. Trump came excruciatingly close to success. Yet the GOP remains loyal to him.

Biden highlighted what's at stake. "MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution," he said. "They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election, and they're working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself."

Democracy differs from authoritarianism in that it rests on truth, compromise, pluralism and a respect for the rights of others. Biden will go down in history as the president who played a major role in preserving the institutions and ideals that Trump did his best to undermine.

But maybe I'm being too optimistic. It may be that a generation or two from now, Americans will no longer be living in a constitutional republic based on fundamental rights, the rule of law and the consent of the governed. In that case, the dominant narrative may be that Biden was naive, weak and foolishly wedded to outmoded principles. He may be on the wrong side of history.

Mikhail Gorbachev could empathize. The former Soviet leader once represented the immense possibilities of human progress. More than anyone else, he was responsible for the eclipse of communism, the demise of the Soviet empire and the peaceful conclusion of the Cold War.

He didn't initiate the surge of political freedom that swept the globe three decades ago. Autocratic governments had previously given way to democracy in Spain, Greece, South Korea, and the Philippines, among others. But no transition was more consequential than the one in Moscow.

Today, it's hard to conceptualize how earthshaking it was. Americans of the Cold War era assumed that communism was as permanent as the moon.

In his 2009 book The Rise and Fall of Communism, Oxford University historian Archie Brown noted: "There are those who, in hindsight, think that transformative change was bound to occur in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1980s. Yet it would be hard to find anyone who at the time predicted change remotely comparable to that which took place."

What was once regarded as impossible came to appear inevitable: the spread of democracy to every corner of the world. Between 1992 and 2006, according to the human rights organization Freedom House, the share of humanity living in free societies grew from 25% to 46%.

Autocracy went into the dustbin of history not only in Eastern Europe but also in much of Latin America and Africa. Even China seemed to be moving toward irreversible liberalization. The words of the English poet William Wordsworth fit the moment: "Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive."

But the tide of change eventually subsided, as tides tend to do. Over the past decade and a half, the forces of autocracy have gained ground. Vladimir Putin has strangled Russia's fledgling democracy. The Chinese Communist Party has grown more repressive. Populist strongmen have come to power in places from Brazil to Hungary — oh, and from 2017 to 2021, in the United States.

In its 2022 world survey, Freedom House reported that global freedom has declined for 16 consecutive years. "The global order is nearing a tipping point," it warned, "and if democracy's defenders do not work together to help guarantee freedom for all people, the authoritarian model will prevail." Biden's address was a call to avert that outcome.

It was once assumed that the story of America was one of steady progress in steadily improving our grand experiment in rule by the people. But nothing in this world is guaranteed to last forever — not even the world's oldest democracy. If it is going to survive, Americans will have to save it — or else be remembered for our failure.

An announcement: Forty-one years ago, I began writing a regular column for the Chicago Tribune, which has been distributed by Creators Syndicate. Today, I'm retiring as a columnist. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, and thanks most of all to my readers.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

In Last Appearance On CNN, Harwood Called Out Media's 'False Equivalency' Problem

CNN White House correspondent John Harwood announced Friday afternoon that it was his last day at the network. Earlier that morning, he explained that the typical rules of political neutrality in mainstream journalism should not apply when covering former President Donald Trump and his continued dominance of the Republican Party, because those rules are designed for “honest disagreements” between the parties, and Trump is instead a “dishonest demagogue.” Harwood, a “harsh critic” of the former president, reportedly had two years left on his contract with CNN.

His departure is not a promising sign, as CNN has reportedly been trying to reach out to Republicans in the name of a warped political balance, the very thing Harwood called out this morning. Harwood reportedly knew in advance that this would be his last day with CNN, and used his appearance “to send a message.”

Harwood appeared Friday on CNN Newsroom, during a discussion of President Joe Biden’s prime-time address Thursday night. The president spoke about how Trump’s MAGA movement “threatens the very foundations of our republic,” referencing Trump’s failed attempt to stay in power after losing the 2020 election, and his and his followers’ continued attempts to subvert state election systems heading into 2024.

Harwood pointed out that as much as mainstream journalism does not want to take sides, Biden is right, pointing also to Trump’s separate declaration earlier Thursday that if he regained the presidency he would pardon those who have been convicted for various crimes after storming the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

JOHN HARWOOD: Of course it was a political speech, we’re — in a midterm reelection year, the issues that he’s talking about are inherently political. But, I think it’s also important to say that the core point he made in that political speech about a threat to democracy, is true.

Now, that's something that's not easy for us as journalists to say. We're brought up to believe there’s two different political parties with different points of view, and we don't take sides in honest disagreements between them. But that’s not what we're talking about. These are not honest disagreements. The Republican Party right now is led by a dishonest demagogue. Many, many Republicans are rallying behind his lies about the 2020 election, and other things, as well.

And a significant portion, or a sufficient portion, of the constituency that they’re leading attacked the Capitol on January 6, violently. By offering pardons or suggesting pardons for those people who violently attacked the Capitol — which you've been pointing out numerous times this morning — Donald Trump made Joe Biden's point for him.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Republicans Respond To Hutchinson Testimony With Feeble Cover-Up

In the public testimony that’s come so far, the House Select Committee has carefully laid out the evidence showing that the assault on the Capitol was not a spontaneous event, but the result of a widespread conspiracy that went on over a period of months. That conspiracy put the Proud Boys in place to break through police lines and lead the way into the Capitol. It fabricated claims of election fraud that ensured thousand of the most gullible would be on hand, ready to be shaped into a weapon. It pressured local and state officials in an effort to create some some appearance of fire beyond waves of smoke. And it sent slates of false electors to Washington in order to bolster a faux-legal assault on democracy.

But until a 26-year-old assistant to the White House chief of staff testified on Tuesday, the central figure of that conspiracy largely remained hidden. Until Tuesday, the big missing hole in that conspiracy was Donald Trump.

It’s not that Trump’s name hadn’t come up over and over. Trump was on the phone with state and local officials, trying to cajole, bully, or threaten them into giving him the votes he wanted. Trump was there in the meetings with attorney John Eastman, where they worked out the scheme to turn Jan. 6 from a ceremonial event into a last-ditch effort to derail the government. Trump was there with would-be Attorney General Jeffery Clark. There with Rudy Giuliani. Bent over a table with disgraced former general Michael Flynn and with no one-should-take-me-seriously Sidney Powell. Trump was there months, even years, earlier, undermining the foundations of democratic elections.

But for the most part, Donald Trump’s private words were passed along in snippets and generalities, his attitudes and actions rarely seen in detail when outside the public eye.

What Hutchinson’s testimony did was fill in an essential gap. Not the gap that described how Trump was desperate to join the conspirators at the Capitol so that he could personally lead his forces in assault—though that’s certainly an important thing to know. What Hutchinson’s testimony provided was a chance to see Trump. To see him raging through the halls of the White House, slinging a plate against the wall in a scene that is shockingly familiar to a million victims of domestic abuse. It was visceral testimony. Testimony that made it patently obvious just how hard others were still working not to admit to the kind of man they had helped.

Hutchinson’s testimony was shocking especially because it provided such a clear vision of the angry, petty, raging, and abusive man driving the nation to the brink. It was the first time we were told that the Trump who appeared on stage—to mock disabled people, brag about his love for violence, and spew vile about his every perceived slight—was even worse in private. It presented scenes of a man not only completely lacking in any kind of self-control, but unaware that self-control was something he should have.

This wasn’t Trump described in generalities and paraphrased statements. This was Trump with ketchup running down the walls and the broken plates still on the floor. It’s the man at the center of the conspiracy who was there all along, but who America has been so reluctant to see.

On Wednesday morning, Republicans were rushing forward with unnamed sources to claim that both Security Chief Bobby Engel and other members of Trump’s Secret Service team are ready to testify that Trump didn’t grab the wheel of the presidential limo, or assault Engel.

However, there’s absolutely no doubt that the House select committee would not have put Hutchinson’s testimony before the public if they did not already have corroboration of everything she said. Rep. Bernie Thompson would not risk the reputation of the investigation on unsupported testimony. None of the members of the committee—several of whom have ambitions that go beyond their current position—would risk their political futures on being tied to testimony that could be readily knocked down.

Hutchinson testified she was told about the events in the limo by White House Chief of Operations Anthony Ornato, and it’s a good bet that the committee already has Ornato agreeing to that story.

The more interesting thing about the Republican response to Hutchinson’s testimony is just how specific that response has been. They’ve zeroed in on just a few seconds in that limo, because that’s the only part where Hutchinson wasn’t actually present. The only part where they can bring it back to something … vague. Something with the rage and ugliness stripped away. Maybe they can get Engel or some Secret Service agents to say Trump didn’t actually put his hands on the wheel. Maybe they can find someone who will use a term other than “lunged.” Maybe they’ll say that his efforts to get to the Capitol fell short of “assault.” Maybe.

But none of those Trump apologists seem to be going after the statements that Hutchinson made concerning her own direct experience. None of them are hurrying to have House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sit down to testify about the phone call he made to Hutchinson while Trump was on stage at the rally on the Ellipse. None of them are encouraging Pat Cipollone to step forward and explain why he and so many others did not want Trump going to the Capitol. None of them are telling Mark Meadows to get up there and explain how his former aide is wrong. None of them are challenging Hutchinson about the observations she personally made, day after day, both before and after the election.

In her testimony, Hutchinson came off as absolutely believable. The statements that she made about Trump were absolutely believable. What’s unbelievable is how many people, even at this late date, are still trying to cover up for a man whose actions and statements make him beneath contempt.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Conservative Judge: Trump Is ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To Democracy

Retired Judge J. Michael Luttig testified under oath before the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on Thursday that the former president, Donald Trump, and his MAGA supporters are a “clear and present danger to American democracy.”

Luttig, a highly-respected conservative attorney and a former federal judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, advised then-Vice President Mike Pence that the John Eastman scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election was illegal.

“I have written, as you said, Chairman Thompson, that today – almost two years after that fateful day in January of 2021 – that still, Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.”

“That’s not because of what happened on January 6. Is because to this very day, the former president, his allies and supporters, pledge that in the presidential election of 2024 if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”

Luttig goes on to say, “I would have never have spoken those words ever in my life except that that’s what the former president and his allies are telling us.”

“The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 and open and plain view of the American public.”

Watch:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

CPAC Meeting In Hungary Promotes Assault On Liberal Democracy

During a speech at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference in Hungary, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson his “friend” and told his audience that Carlson’s show should be “broadcasted day and night.”

Orban is a self-identified supporter of what he calls “illiberal” democracy and has rapidly consolidated power for his far-right party, Fidesz.

According to Orban, the secret to his political success was controlling the media, and he endorsed Carlson as the model to follow. “Have your own media,” said Orban, also noting: “Only friend Tucker Carlson places himself on the line without wavering.”

The nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders has labeled Orban a “predator” to press freedom for his censoring of critics and his successful consolidation of previously independent media outlets under the control of friendly oligarchs. Fidesz now controls 80 percent of the country’s media landscape, and any remaining independent outlets are denied access to official government information and labeled “fake news.”

Carlson returned the strongman’s praise in his prerecorded keynote address, celebrating Hungary as a “signpost to a better way” for America, a dog whistle to Hungary’s racist, anti-immigrant politics.

Since his election in 2010, Orban has worked to silence free speech, banned LGBTQ content in schools, and enforced harsh immigration rules. Because of these policies, the nonprofit Freedom House downgraded the country from “free” to “partly free,” making it one of the least free countries in Europe.

Orban’s far-right politics are thinly veiled applications of the same “great replacement” conspiracy theory that has become front-page news in the United States. “Hungarians are an endangered species,” he said as he stoked fears over immigrants to curtail and prevent further immigration. In 2015, the country built a wall along its border with Serbia to keep out mostly Muslim asylum-seekers, whom he characterized as “invaders” and a threat to national security, Christian identity, and Hungarian society. (Orban’s smears of migrants should sound very familiar to anyone accustomed to Fox News’ portrayals of the southern U.S. border.)

Human Rights Watch described people in Hungary’s detention centers as being “kept in pens like animals, out in the sun without food and water, without any medical assistance." According to Vox, “this is all by design: Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his goal is to discourage refugees from crossing into Hungary, even at the cost of treating them inhumanely.”

Orban’s “great replacement” rhetoric is uncannily similar to segments from Carlson’s prime-time show. In fact, Carlson’s video appearance at the convention comes on the heels of intense media focus regarding his role mainstreaming the great replacement theory in America, which motivated a shooter to massacre 10 people in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. His praise for Hungary under Orban’s leadership is just another example of his support for the racist theory.

Orban wants to turn this ideology into a movement, and he sees Carlson’s show as a model for right-wing media outlets. During his speech at CPAC, Orban urged conservatives in America and Europe to “find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops” and to “take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels.”

Carlson seems eager to help in these efforts. He praised the country’s anti-immigration policies in 2019, saying that "Hungary's leaders actually care about making sure their own people thrive” and praised Hungary for “using tax dollars to uplift their own people” instead of “every illegal immigrant from the third world.”

Despite broad international criticism for Orban’s draconian policies, Fox News greenlit a special episode of Carlson’s show last year that broadcast from Budapest, during which Carlson proclaimed, “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.”

Republicans chose to hold CPAC in Orban’s Hungary, one of the world’s most repressive right-wing countries. By Orban’s own admission, a loyal media was key to his party’s takeover and overhaul of Hungary’s democracy. With midterm elections approaching, audiences should take Orban’s endorsement of his “friend” Tucker Carlson as a warning.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

WATCH: Attorney General Dodges Question On Meadows Contempt Charge

A reporter at the Department of Justice on Friday asked Attorney General Merrick Garland the question that’s been on many minds of late: Why hasn’t former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows been formally charged with criminal contempt of Congress?

On December 14 the full House of Representatives sent DOJ a contempt of Congress referral for Meadows. Since that time even more damning information has been reported by the press.

The attorney general was not just unwilling to give a direct answer, he was unwilling to even confirm there was a referral sent to DOJ, a commonly-known fact that is also in the official Congressional Record.

"Four months is a gracious plenty of time to make a decision about whether to prosecute Meadows, especially since SCOTUS has mostly resolved the executive privilege argument,” former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance noted on Twitter.


Biden Convenes More Than 100 Nations For World Democracy Summit

Washington (AFP) - President Joe Biden, who took office amid the biggest US political crisis in decades, hosts representatives of more than 100 countries for a democracy summit Thursday that is drawing fire from China and Russia.

The event, held by video link because of the coronavirus pandemic, is billed by the White House as US leadership in an existential struggle between democracies and powerful autocracies or dictatorships.

"Make no mistake, we're at a moment of democratic reckoning," said Uzra Zeya, the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

"It's no secret that democracies around the world are facing increasing challenges from new and novel threats. Countries in virtually every region of the world have experienced degrees of democratic backsliding."

The summit, running Thursday and Friday, will feature opening remarks from Biden at the White House and is set to gather representatives from some 100 governments, as well as NGOs, private businesses, philanthropical organizations and legislatures.

But the fact that Biden continues to face a shocking challenge to US democratic norms from Donald Trump and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election provides a troubling backdrop for the summit.

And even before summit attendees could meet, tensions erupted simply over who should be on -- and off -- the list.

China and Russia, which Biden sees as champions of the autocracies camp, were pointedly left out, something they say is stoking an ideological "rift."

"No country has the right to judge the world's vast and varied political landscape by a single yardstick," wrote ambassadors Anatoly Antonov of Russia and Qin Gang of China in a joint essay last month.

Further prickling Chinese sensibilities, the Biden administration has invited Taiwan -- the democratically ruled island that mainland China considers part of its territory, albeit not yet under its control.

On Monday, the Biden administration also announced it would not send US government officials to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February in protest at human rights abuses, including "genocide" against the Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang.

Australia, Britain, and Canada have joined the diplomatic boycott, although the countries' athletes will still compete. Again, Russia joined China in criticizing the decision.

Deciding when other countries should be excluded from the summit for human rights abuses or vote rigging hasn't been any less fraught.

For example, Pakistan and the Philippines are in, while EU member Hungary's nationalist government is out. Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is invited, while the leader of NATO member Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been shunned.

Democracy Problem At Home

The most awkward element to the summit, however, is the fact that Biden is struggling to restore faith in democracy at home, let alone on the other side of the world.

Trump refuses to recognize the results of the 2020 election, in which Biden defeated him.

With the help of sympathetic media outlets, including the powerful Fox News, the former Republican president continues to spread lies about fraud to his tens of millions of supporters.

And with shockwaves from the January 6 storming of Congress by Trump supporters still reverberating, there are growing fears over the 2022 legislative elections and the 2024 presidential vote in which Trump may seek a comeback.

Bruce Jentleson, who teaches political science at Duke University, said the summit was "never a good idea."

"Our problems here are much worse than in any other Western democracy. We had our Capitol building attacked, an attempted coup. We haven’t seen that happen in Paris, or at the Bundestag, or at the EU headquarters in Brussels," he said.

"If we want to compete, we've got to do our best and that is really more up to us within the country than somehow getting 100 leaders together and saying, 'We like democracy.'"