The idea that the U.S. should support the emergence of democracy around the world has been a pillar of American—and Republican—foreign policy for decades, says analyst Walter Russell Mead.
But proposals “to gut spending for democracy-promotion organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy” are indicative of a view that “free trade and democracy promotion are part of the globalist agenda that … the American public no longer supports,” he writes for The Wall Street Journal.
The fact that democracy is increasingly imperiled makes institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy more important, The New Republic’s Jet Heer contends. The moral equivalence implicit in suggestions that Russian electoral interference is akin to democracy assistance is “glib, since it fails to distinguish between intentionally destabilizing a democracy … and working to foster and improve democracies (as the NED does),” he adds.
Electoral assistance is rooted in the principle of transparency, involving budgeting and open procurement; professional outreach to citizens; clear and inclusive voter education; integrity in results tabulation and transmission; and rule of law-based processes to address electoral complaints. Even the way that electoral assistance is funded is transparent — it’s not underwritten by any “black budget,” but through public U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of State programming.