Tell President Biden: Democracy Needs Activists to Thrive
Around the world, authoritarian leaders are grabbing power and democracies are in peril. President Biden convened a second Summit for Democracy earlier this year to re-envision democracy in a way that works for everyone.
But the voices of activists and marginalized people—who are critical to protecting democracy and suffer disproportionately under authoritarian rule—were not centered in these discussions.
Jewish history has taught us the perils of unchecked authoritarianism—and what happens when minorities are viewed as less than equal. Marginalized voices must be heard if we are to challenge authoritarianism and advance democracy worldwide. Sign our letter to President Biden below to urge him and his administration to give marginalized people an equal seat at the table.
Dear President Biden,
Thank you for hosting the second Summit for Democracy earlier this year. With authoritarianism on the rise and democracies backsliding around the world, this unique opportunity for states and civil society to convene was much needed. We hope this will become a sustained, yearly summit for many years to come with shared leadership across civil society, other democratic governments and marginalized communities.
We want to emphasize the importance of ensuring that marginalized voices are at the forefront of any efforts to design inclusive, just and long-lasting democracies. Genocide survivors, human rights defenders, stateless people, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQI+ people, journalists, Indigenous people, women and activists must all have an equal seat at the table for democracies to thrive.
While marginalized people are essential to protecting and advancing democracy, they are also disproportionately harmed by authoritarian leaders. All too often they are the first to be scapegoated, discriminated against or attacked by political figures. The Jewish people have experienced this throughout our history. Marginalized groups like the Rohingya people of Burma, Dominicans of Haitian descent, the Ogiek Indigenous people of Kenya, student activists in Nicaragua and many more are blamed for issues in their countries, resulting in persecution and worse. These groups have faced forced evictions from their lands, imprisonment, revoked citizenship and even genocide at the hands of their own governments.
As you continue the critical work of supporting democracy and dealing with the impacts of democracies gone awry, we urge you to:
- Regularly hold Summits for Democracy, sharing leadership with other countries and ensuring that civil society leaders and historically marginalized communities have an equal seat at the table.
- Set up a funded civil society advisory council for the Summit for Democracy with pro-democracy activists from both democratic and authoritarian states; push other countries to fund and support this council.
- Issue a joint statement with clear commitments, from the U.S. and all Summit participants, renewing our shared commitment to democracy for the world’s most marginalized people.
Democracy thrives through the strength of people who work each day to bolster and improve it. We hope that you and your administration will ensure that these critical voices are heard.