Freedom & Democracy

Supporting Freedom and Democracy

Advocating that freedom is universal, democracy is the best way to ensure freedom, and American global leadership is crucial to peace and prosperity.

“We know that free governments are the only way to ensure that the strong are just and the weak are valued. And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.”
— President George W. Bush

The values that underpin democracy and human rights are not just American values — they are universal ones.

Freedom worldwide has declined for almost two decades, and powers in Beijing and Moscow have exploited this crisis. This trend has occurred in countries with fragile democratic systems and in more mature democracies like those in Europe and the United States.

American leadership, working closely with allies, is critical to supporting democracy and people struggling for liberty around the world. Doing so reinforces the importance of accountability and enhances the conditions for a more peaceful, prosperous, and free world.

Encouraging democratization and respect for human rights globally is essential to advancing American values, as well as our security and economic interests around the world.

The Bush Institute seeks to:

  • Restore democracy and human rights as cornerstones of American foreign policy​
  • Expand bipartisan support for democracy activists under threat globally​
  • Support human rights and democracy globally through the efforts of our bipartisan working group​
  • Put a human face on those struggling for freedom through stories and profiles

Our Team

Read David J. Kramer's biography.
David J. Kramer
David J. Kramer

Executive Director, George W. Bush Institute and Vice President George W. Bush Presidential Center

Read Igor Khrestin 's biography.
Igor Khrestin

Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director, Global Policy George W. Bush Institute

Read Jessica Ludwig's biography.
Jessica Ludwig photo.
Jessica Ludwig

Director, Global Policy George W. Bush Institute

Read Chris Walsh's biography.
Chris Walsh

Director, Global Policy George W. Bush Institute

Read Nicole Bibbins Sedaca's biography.
Nicole Bibbins Sedaca

Kelly and David Pfeil Fellow George W. Bush Institute

Read William McKenzie's biography.
William McKenzie

Senior Editorial Advisor George W. Bush Institute

Read Victor Cha's biography.
Victor Cha

Senior Fellow George W. Bush Institute

Read Joseph Kim's biography.
Joseph Kim
Joseph Kim

Program Manager, Global Policy and Expert-in-Residence George W. Bush Institute

Read Ellen Bork's biography.
Ellen Bork

Fellow George W. Bush Institute

Tom A. Bernstein, Chair

President and Co-Founder, Chelsea Piers, L.P.; Former Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Mike Abramowitz

President, Freedom House

Elliot Abrams

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Scott Carpenter

Managing Director, Jigsaw

Paula Dobriansky

Former Under Secretary of State, Democracy and Global Affairs; Senior Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project, Kennedy School, Harvard University

Carl Gershman

Founding President, National Endowment for Democracy

Michael Gerson

Syndicated Columnist, Washington Post

Carlos Gutierrez

Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, EmPath

Allan Holt

Managing Director, The Carlyle Group; Vice Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Melanie Kirkpatrick

Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

Maribeth Kuenzi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Cox School of Business, SMU

Nancy Cain Marcus, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, SMU

Derek Mitchell

President, National Democratic Institute

Natan Sharansky

Chair, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP)

Craig Stapleton

Former U.S. Ambassador to France and the Czech Republic

Dan Twining

President, International Republican Institute

Kenneth Wollack

Former President, National Democratic Institute

Democracy Talks

Read the latest issues

At the Bush Center, we’re concerned about the challenges to the health of democracies around the world. Populism is on the rise. Media and other independent institutions are under pressure. Human rights violations are ignored. Isolationism and authoritarianism are growing. And now democracies are faced with containing a pandemic while at the same time cherishing their longstanding freedoms.

Edited by William McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at the Bush Institute, the Democracy Talks series presented here represents the latest in the Bush Institute’s volume of work on meeting the challenges to democracy.