A ‘house on fire’: Biden democracy summit comes as US grapples with own democratic crisis

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s democracy summit opened with lofty rhetoric and panel discussions about protecting human rights, bolstering good governance and countering authoritarianism.

It was Vice President Kamala Harris who talked about the elephant in the room: America’s own tarnished reputation as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

“Here in the United States, we know that our democracy is not immune from threats. January 6 looms large in our collective conscience,” Harris said Thursday in her address to world leaders gathered for the virtual summit, which closes Friday.

For democracy experts and advocates, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol – in which an angry mob tried to stop the certification of a free and fair presidential election – was a stark illustration of the broader shortcomings in America’s democracy.

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