Score one for Joe Biden

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So many observances appear on the calendar each year. Although many of these special days, weeks, or months get government recognition, they often elude widespread public awareness. Recently, the Biden administration has marked two related commemorations that speak to who we are as a nation and remind us of how fortunate we are to live in a democracy—and how fragile it is.

The first is International Day of Democracy, which was created by a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2007 to be celebrated annually on September 15. According to UNESCO’s website, this day “provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world” and notes that democracy is not just a goal but a process.

In a statement issued on Friday, President Joe Biden wrote that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people is our greatest strength.” Biden pointed out that when he took office, it was unclear if “democracies could still come together” in a “rapidly changing world.” Offering examples ranging from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the first White House Summit ever to counter hate-motivated violence, the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform Act, and more, Biden recalled our ability to show the power of American democracy.

Biden also pointed to achievements abroad, such as standing with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressions (calling it “a test for the ages”) and bringing over 100 countries together at the Summit for Democracy earlier this year, among others. These actions show how the United States and its allies remain committed to democracy despite constant challenges because “we know there is nothing inevitable” about it.

Also on Friday, Biden issued a presidential proclamation for Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, which commemorates the September 17, 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution. Biden recognized this time to “recommit” to defending democracy and the idea that everyone deserves to be “treated equally throughout our lives.” Calling the January 6 attack on the Capitol “one of the darkest moments of our Nation’s history,” Biden declared that his administration won’t let the right to vote be taken from the American people.

Biden also had a few words for people who “seek to erase our history and ban books,” saying we must always learn “the good, the bad, and the truth of who we are as a Nation.” As Biden pointed out, America is founded on an idea, which is that “America guarantees that everyone be treated with dignity.”

These observances are about concepts that, particularly in light of the Republican push toward autocracy, we cannot take for granted. In his piece “A Republic, If We Can Keep It,” Adam J. White of the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute wrote in The Atlantic, “The government set up by James Madison and the other Founders requires a virtuous public and virtuous leaders—or the whole system will fail.” As the GOP reminds us through words and actions every day, America’s democracy is at stake in the next election.

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