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Freedom and Democracy

For more than 75 years, the liberal international order has secured peace, advanced justice, and expanded prosperity in the United States and around the world. American leadership has been central to its success.

Today, that order appears to be under attack. The rise in populism, illiberalism, nationalism, and protectionism, fading confidence in our institutions and free markets, global economic disruption, and polarized political discourse are all to blame.

In October 2017, the Bush Institute hosted The Spirit of Liberty, a national forum in New York that kicked off a major new effort of the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative. The program seeks in a bipartisan way to affirm American values of freedom, to strengthen the institutions that secure these values at home, and to help catalyze a 21st century consensus that it is in America’s interest to lead in their strengthening worldwide. The goal is to identify several areas for action by government and the private sector to celebrate, protect, and extend the spirit of liberty at home and in the world.

Policy Recommendations

  • Harden our defenses
  • Strengthen the American citizen
  • Project American leadership
  • Restore trust in democratic institutions

Read our Call to Action

"The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand."
-- President George W. Bush

WATCH PRESIDENT BUSH'S SPEECH

The Democracy Project

Even as Americans remain committed to the ideals of democracy, a majority see democracy in the United States as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey jointly commissioned by Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.

Research generously supported by the  John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Recommended Resources

"We must teach our children how to listen, to show empathy, to show civility in the face of disagreement, and to overcome malice and hate. And, we must model the behavior ourselves."
-- Mrs. Laura Bush

WATCH MRS. BUSH'S SPEECH