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As U.S. leadership dims, the world is drifting away from democracy

Statue of Liberty with torch replaced by matchstick
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios 

The news that China’s constitution will be amended to permit Xi Jinping to serve additional terms as president is only the most recent instance of a disturbing trend: Not just democracy but the rule of law and respect for civil society and individual liberty are in decline around the world. One reason is that the United States is failing to set an example that many wish to emulate.

The U.S. has removed the promotion of democracy and human rights from its foreign policy agenda. Its silence on these issues gives repressive regimes a free pass to crack down. But our increasingly divisive domestic politics are also part of the problem.