The Global Necessity of American Democracy
US President Joe Biden's speech on the "battle for the soul of the nation" laid out the enormous stakes of November's midterm elections. It is not just the future of American democracy that is on the line, but also the United States' ability to lead a fragmented world in addressing humanity's most significant challenges.
MADRID – In his prophetic 1838 Lyceum Address, a generation before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln predicted that the fall of the United States, if it were ever to occur, would not come from an outside threat, but rather as a result of internal division. “It cannot come from abroad,” he said, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”
At grave historical moments, the fears of America’s greatest leaders re-enter the country’s political discourse. In a speech in Philadelphia this month, President Joe Biden’s concern for American democracy was eerily similar to Lincoln’s. Biden’s choice to deliver his speech outside Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted in 1776, was meant to convey the significance of his remarks. The title of the address – “The Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation” – reflected the polarized nature of contemporary US politics.
The US is the world’s leading power, so what happens there – good and bad – rarely stays there. Its political health affects the world’s overall stability. Without a politically stable US, we cannot effectively address any of humanity’s most pressing challenges.