FACT SHEET: America & Democracy – What’s at Stake at Home and Abroad?

Bipartisan Perspectives on American Democracy

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) convened a bipartisan virtual town hall with Congressman David Price (D-NC) and former Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), alongside USAID Acting Administrator Gloria Steele. They discussed the bipartisan agenda to strengthen democratic institutions around the world, and how that impacts our democracy here at home.

Here’s what these leaders had to say:

  • U.S. Representative David Price (D-NC): “The trends are pretty daunting… the regression of democracy… All of that has been exacerbated by COVID: the delay of elections, the delay of resumption of parliamentary activity, and so on. I think it’s a pretty clear that COVID has been a serious complicating factor, which I think underscores the importance… that COVID in more ways than one is an international phenomenon that has international ramifications, not just health ramifications.”
  • Former U.S. Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL): “Our shared prosperity is inextricably linked to these [democratic] principles. These authoritarians they over characterize, they oversell, they over promise and so forth. And when it all comes down to it, they can’t deliver the types of things that a robust democracy can deliver.”
  • Gloria Steele, Acting USAID Administrator: “One of the things I learned over the last few years was… the foundational role that democracy plays. And we see this today when authoritarianism, when transparency breaks down, every other sector gets affected.”

The conversation was led by USGLC President and CEO, Liz Schrayer, who said: “One thing that brings us all together is this passionate commitment for democracy. We know it is precious and fragile – both here in our own country and around the world. And one of the things that brings the USGLC together is this belief that America’s engagement in the world is directly linked to America’s health and economic well-being. And this past year with the global pandemic nothing has brought that issue home more dramatically and directly.”

Global Impacts on Democracy

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of democracy around the world — from postponing elections to suspending citizen protests to amplifying the global debate of authoritarianism versus democracy.

  • Democracy has declined worldwide for the last 15 years in a row (Freedom House).
  • Over the course of the pandemic, 80 countries have seen a decline in democracy and human rights (Freedom House).
  • Elections have been postponed or cancelled in at least 75 countries or territories because of COVID-19 (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance)
  • One forecast warned that 13 countries are likely to experience new conflicts in the next two years due to the exacerbating effects of the pandemic (Foreign Policy).

>>Read USGLC’s brief for more about COVID-19’s impact on democracy worldwide.