Strategies & Recommendations
Develop a US National Democracy Strategy
In 2021, the Biden administration should develop a first-ever National Democracy Strategy that articulates a detailed multiyear vision of domestic and international policy to strengthen and advance democracy. The strategy should have global components, including how the United States will work with partners to create global public goods for democracy. Its elements should reach broadly across policy and programs, to include safeguarding the integrity of elections and independent media, enhancing tools to address disinformation and protect free speech, strengthening global anticorruption regimes, and updating trade and investment standards to incorporate rights and democracy “dividends.” It should articulate regional approaches and priorities. To be effective, the National Democracy Strategy should have an implementation plan that assigns agency roles and responsibilities and aligns necessary funding to the plan.
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The National Democracy Strategy should align with a new National Security Strategy, which should articulate why democracy is central to national security. This approach would create a foundational text and roadmap for foreign and domestic policy on this priority issue. It would aid in maintaining focus, aligning strategy with programs and budgets, and sending a strong signal to the relevant agencies of the executive branch, as well as legislative, subnational, and international partners.
President Biden should issue a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) that articulates a vision of an integrated, interagency approach to supporting democracy and countering authoritarianism. The PDD, focused on diplomacy, development, and defense, with democracy as the new “fourth D,” would direct the National Security Advisor and the Director of the Domestic Policy Council to develop the National Democracy Strategy.
To establish a baseline of facts and expectations, the White House should request a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to assess the global state of democracy, the drivers of decline, and related threats to US security. This NIE should be briefed to every member of Congress, and an unclassified version should be made available to the public. Congress should mandate a comprehensive review of the allocation and expenditure of democracy-related assistance through the executive branch to determine the sufficiency and efficacy of these efforts.
Congress should request an annual report on the implementation of the National Democracy Strategy, and host an annual hearing on the state of democracy and human rights in the world to ensure “consistent focus on democracy and human rights and a public record of the administration’s commitment to and plan for supporting democracy.”1
- 1Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, “Choose Freedom: Revitalizing American Support for Democracy and Human Rights in the 21st Century,” George W. Bush Institute, January 2020, https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/resources-reports/reports/choos….