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“Empowering the Next Generation” the 2023 Theme

Today is International Democracy Day around the world. While there will be many who ask “What is it and Why is it Important?”

The United Nations first created this commemoration in 2007. Simply put, the aim is to highlight what’s good about democracies and to encourage people to keep them alive. A democracy is a country that asks the people who live there to say how they feel about how it is run. Typically it publishes and adheres to a rule of law, and demonstrates democracy through things such as elections and referendums.

In a world where authoritarian regimes are on the rise, dictators like Vladimir Putin invade their democratic neighbor, where violence, genocides, droughts, and famines are made worse in third-world countries because governance is in chaos — democracy and the rule of law is a pretty good thing.

Image of private voting booths. Photo Courtesy of KSHB.

The theme for 2023 is ‘Empowering the Next Generation’, which the UN says is to encourage young people to get involved in democratic processes so they can have their voices heard.

Around the globe and especially in the United States, younger generations have grown up with rights and privileges that so many take for granted — without internalizing that they are made possible by democracy. What often is not realized is that it is not capitalism that is the operating principle underlying those rights and freedoms — it is democracy.

“When I came into office, it was clear that one of the defining questions of our time was whether democracies could still come together to deliver for our people in a rapidly changing world,” wrote President Joe Biden in a longer statement this morning celebrating Democracy Day.

“I believed then—as I do now—that the answer is yes. Democracy remains humanity’s most enduring means to advance prosperity, security, and dignity for all. And over the last two and a half years, we’ve proved it” added Biden. “Today we recommit to this important work. Because we know there is nothing inevitable about democracy, just as generations before us stepped up to defend it, we must answer the call to preserve democracy for generations to come. So together, let us continue to remember that government of the people, by the people, and for the people is our greatest strength.”

United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made this statement:

“On this International Day of Democracy, I emphasize again the commitment that the United States and our international partners have made to protect and promote democracy across the globe. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this December, we recommit ourselves to the values enshrined in the Declaration, which unconditionally elevates human rights for everyone, everywhere, and strengthens democracy and democratic institutions around the world.

As the world continues to modernize, we see governments abusing technological advancements to infringe on the democratic process and on the human rights of their constituents. As part of our work to counter this development, the United States, along with over 100 of our foreign partners, gathered at the second Summit for Democracy earlier this year and underscored our commitment to maximize the promise and benefits that technology can bring to advance democracy globally. When governments misuse technology, whether by imposing Internet shutdowns, controlling Internet access or content, or resorting to online harassment to target and abuse people who hold dissenting beliefs, they restrict freedom of expression and impede the free and open exchange of ideas. The full enjoyment of freedom of expression online and offline is a cornerstone of democracy and is of critical importance to the advancement of democratic institutions, principles, and processes.

Democracy is more than a form of government; it sets the foundation for a society where everyone is free to be who they are, express what they think, and practice their beliefs. The United States is committed to upholding democratic values worldwide and strengthening democratic institutions as we work toward a world in which all people can fully and freely exercise their universal human rights.

Unspoken in either the messages from Biden or Blinken is this reality: democracy in the United States is under attack by those election deniers who continue to spout lies about the results of the 2020 election, who refuse to believe that the entire rule of law applies to them and their candidates; not just the parts they want to espouse. Their attacks on our dedicated election officials are unwarranted and their calls for violence are the antithesis of democracy.