News & Ideas  -  Our Vow to Help Shape a More Inclusive Democracy

Article Defending Inclusive Democracy Sharon L Davies

By Sharon L. Davies

On January 6, 2021, the United States faced an unprecedented challenge to its democracy: a direct assault on the US Capitol aimed at preventing the peaceful transfer of presidential power. This event was the culmination of a campaign of disinformation and an outgoing president’s refusal to accept electoral defeat. It constituted a historic threat not only to our democracy, but also to democratic societies everywhere.


The attack on the US Capitol is a stark reminder of democracy’s fragility and serves as a warning that even well-established democracies are vulnerable to leaders who prioritize their own personal power over their constitutional obligations and the will of the people. It also underscores the dangerous consequences of polarization and eroded trust in the administration of elections. The good news is our democracy held. But retaining public confidence in our electoral system is a critical, ongoing task.


Now, three years since the attack on the Capitol, and at the start of another presidential election year, the nation must renew its commitment to an inclusive democracy, where the rule of law is defended and the rights of all to vote and have their votes counted are protected.


Over the past year, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation has reflected deeply on how the needs of democracy have changed since it made the advancement of democracy its principal concern in the early 1980s. We continue to believe in the essential role citizens play in the preservation of a healthy democracy. But we also recognize that the threats to democracy have sharpened over the last two decades, and enemies of democracy have proliferated around the globe. To help counter those forces, we have launched a new suite of focus areas, programs, and initiatives, accompanied by a new visual identity and updated website. With these changes, we reaffirm our dedication to fostering inclusive democracy worldwide.


In the current climate, marked by book bans, governmental censorship, voter intimidation, and political violence, citizens have a crucial role to play. We must resist the temptation to withdraw, hold our elected representatives accountable, and stand together against the rise of authoritarianism.


From its founding, the United States has had to work to align its laws and social practices with its visionary principles. It was only in the middle of the 20th century, marked by civil rights legislation and landmark Supreme Court decisions, that the United States could fairly claim to be a democracy in the fullest sense, where the rights of all citizens were protected.


Citizens from our past were the purveyors of those advancements in our democracy. It is now our turn to secure those victories. The arc of a moral universe doesn’t bend toward justice on its own. It is bent by those in every successive generation who answer the call to act to help shape a fairer and more inclusive society.


As the Kettering Foundation moves forward, we are committed to being an integral part of that work, helping to bend the arc toward a more just and democratic world.