This collection on American democracy challenges and complements blog posts and opinion pieces that are typical staples of the 24/7 news cycle in the lead up to US elections. You'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions, the role of the media in civil society, and more.

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"VOTE!" by Paul Sableman licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Fueling the Fire: How Social Media Intensifies U.S. Political Polarization — And What Can Be Done About It

September 9, 2021

This report analyzes the evidence bearing on social media's role in polarization, assesses the effects of severe divisiveness, and recommends steps the government and the social media industry can take to ameliorate the problem. We conclude that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are not the original or main cause of rising U.S. political polarization, a phenomenon that long predates the social media industry. But use of those platforms intensifies divisiveness and thus contributes to its corrosive consequences. This conclusion is bolstered by a close reading of the social science literature, interviews with sociologists and political scientists who have published studies in this area, and Facebook's own pattern of internally researching the polarization problem and periodically adjusting its algorithms to reduce the flow of content likely to stoke political extremism and hatred.

Media

Reversing the Tide: Towards a New US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism

April 14, 2021

The rise of authoritarianism, coupled with the erosion of democracy, threatens global stability, America's economic and security alliances, and respect for human dignity. In each of the last 15 consecutive years, abuses of human rights and assaults on core democratic institutions and practices have accelerated around the globe.1 This alarming confluence requires an urgent, bold, generational response that places support for democracy and countering authoritarianism at the heart of our foreign policy and national security strategy. US leadership in defending established democracies, supporting nascent democracies, and challenging autocrats—while putting our own house in better order—will necessitate a reordering of priorities, plans, and budgets. This report is both a call to action for US leadership and a roadmap for a practical, bipartisan path forward, providing suggesting seven strategies on how to support democracy and counter authoritarianism.

Government