As Joe Biden Touts Global Democracy, Signs Point to Concern Nearer to Home

While President Joe Biden looks to tout global democracy in the coming days, signs point to concern at home on the matter—and a potential lack of public desire to intervene elsewhere.

Biden hosts the first White House Summit for Democracy over the next two days, in which he will urge those attending to commit to "reversing the democratic recession and ensuring that democracies deliver for their people."

But while there is a desire to encourage action further afield, there appears to be recognition that the U.S. has work to do itself.

A senior administration official, speaking on a call to reporters previewing the democracy summit, told reporters: "The United States is approaching the summit from a place of humility. The Biden-Harris administration has made clear that efforts to bolster democracy globally begin by working diligently and transparently to strengthen its foundations at home.

"And you'll see messaging from President Biden and other administration officials to that effect over the course of the summit."

They spoke of voting rights as a focus on this point for the president, adding: "The President has been absolutely clear that protecting Americans' constitutional rights and the integrity of our elections from the systematic assault that folks—in particular, Republican legislators—have been engaged in across the country is a must and that this historic threat requires strong voting rights legislation. And you'll hear that from the President again this week."

In Biden's opening remarks on Thursday, he spoke of democracy requiring "consensus and cooperation" and preserving it being "the challenge of our time," while he insisted the U.S. would "lead by example."

While the administration and the president have pointed to this work at home, polling has indicated the public has concerns for Democracy within the U.S. itself.

A CNN poll conducted by SSRS from August 3 to September 7, with a sample of 2,119 respondents, gave three options for the view of the state of American democracy.

One was "American democracy is under attack," to which 56 percent of those asked said best described their view. More than a third, or 37 percent, chose "American democracy is being tested, but is not under attack," while six percent chose "American democracy is in no danger."

A poll by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School indicated most young Americans believe democracy is "in trouble" or "failing."

The institute's polling director John Della Volpe, in comments alongside the results being shared, said: "After turning out in record numbers in 2020, young Americans are sounding the alarm. When they look at the America they will soon inherit, they see a democracy and climate in peril—and Washington as more interested in confrontation than compromise."

Of the 2,109 18 to 29-year-olds asked questions between October 26 to November 8, 39 percent said America was a "democracy in trouble," and 13 percent said the United States was a "failed democracy."

A report from the The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance also placed the U.S. among a list of democracies that had deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Pew Research polling conducted from February 1 to 7, including 2,596 respondents, showed promoting democracy in other nations as the lowest among a range of foreign policy priorities posed to respondents, with just 20 percent stating this should be a top objective.

Latana's Democracy Perception Index 2021 also highlighted questions over the U.S. impact on democracy. Of 53,194 respondents from 53 countries spoken to from February 24 to April 14, 44 percent of those asked said they felt the influence of the U.S. was a threat to democracy in their nation.

While Biden will hope to express influence on the matter abroad, these results highlight concerns for him to address at home.

And there is also the question of other nation's perception of U.S. interventions, and the American public's desire for such action.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

joe biden at virtual summit for democracy
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, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images