As he took his first steps on foreign shores as president on Wednesday, Joe biden he had a message for America’s allies and adversaries. “America is back,” he said in comments to the troops in Mildenhall, before a meeting with the British Prime Minister Boris johnson and a meeting of the G7 nations. “Democracies are united to address the toughest challenges and problems that matter most to our future.”
The speech, a Biden family hymn to democratic institutions and to individual decency and perseverance, was something of an olive branch for longtime American partners after four years of Donald trumpbelligerence and isolationism. It was also rhetorical music directed at hostile powers like Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, with whom he plans to meet later during his trip to Europe. But more than all that, it was, like his inaugural speech and his election itself, like a rallying cry for democracy itself, a call to “discredit those who believe that the era of democracy is over.”
“Democracy does not happen by accident,” Biden told US forces. “We have to defend it. We have to strengthen it, renew it. And I know the American people are ready for this job. “
Yet whether they or their elected officials really are, is the uncomfortable question underlying Biden’s international reach this week. The fact that it should emphasize the country’s commitment to democracy in the first place underscores the extent to which it is in jeopardy. Biden may have pulled the country off the dangerous path that Trump, an aspiring autocrat, had us on for four years. But the Republican Party is in the midst of a determined effort to get us back in it, and it’s not clear that the Democrats can stop them. Despite the president’s firm hand and the early successes of his administration, particularly in the fight against COVID, the last five months have also been a reminder that no person, not even a party, can save democracy alone. The Republican crusade may just be the project of a minority party, but the majority’s efforts to fight back are being held hostage by people like the senator. Joe manchin, the Red State Democrat whose commitment to filibuster could derail his party’s work to pass voter protection laws and other key issues on Biden’s agenda popular with the American public.
Biden did not ignore those threats, but expressed characteristic optimism about the ability of the United States and its allies to respond to them. “I believe we are at a turning point in world history, the time when it is up to us to show that democracies will not only endure, but will excel as we move forward to seize the enormous opportunities of a new era,” he said. .
The united front that Biden is trying to present is undermined by the obvious divisions at home. Even abroad, his tough stance against the governments of Russia and China is not entirely shared by the allies, who have been strengthening financial ties with those countries, such as Axios. indicated. That does not mean that their optimism is misplaced or that their determination to rebuild alliances is unwelcome. But it does show that a lot is out of your control and speaks to the stakes in the test you described. “You and I know they are wrong,” Biden said Wednesday of the autocrats’ efforts. “But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work harder than ever to show that democracy can still be beneficial to our people.”
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