Nearly every presidential center released a joint statement on Thursday emphasizing the principles of democracy and deeming civil political discourse essential, the first known time that presidential foundations and centers have joined to release a statement calling to protect democracy.
“Americans have a strong interest in supporting democratic movements and respect for human rights around the world because free societies elsewhere contribute to our own security and prosperity here at home,” the statement said. “But that interest is undermined when others see our own house in disarray. The world will not wait for us to address our problems, so we must both continue to strive toward a more perfect union and help those abroad looking for US leadership.”
Donald Trump, who does not yet have a presidential center, was not among the signatories and was not named in the statement, which is being released at a time when the former president’s efforts to prevent the peaceful transition of power have been the focus of multiple investigations. CNN has reached out to Trump’s presidential campaign for response.
The statement said “democracy holds us together” and noted that a wide range of views can exist when “rooted in the principles of democracy.”
“Each of us has a role to play and responsibilities to uphold,” it reads. “Our elected officials must lead by example and govern effectively in ways that deliver for the American people. This, in turn, will help to restore trust in public service. The rest of us must engage in civil dialogue; respect democratic institutions and rights; uphold safe, secure, and accessible elections; and contribute to local, state, or national improvement.”
The foundations’ call comes at a time when Americans are expressing a sense of pessimism and lack of faith in democracy. In a CNN poll conducted by SSRS in July, President Joe Biden’s approval rating for protecting democracy in the US dipped into negative territory: 44% approve and 55% disapprove, a shift that has come fairly evenly across party lines.
Meanwhile, among Republicans, the percentage of those who believe Biden’s 2020 election win was not legitimate has ticked back up to 69%, up from 63% earlier this year.
The foundations that signed the joint statement include the Obama Foundation, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Clinton Foundation, George & Barbara Bush Foundation, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, The Carter Center, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Richard Nixon Foundation, LBJ Foundation, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Truman Library Institute, Roosevelt Institute and Hoover Presidential Foundation.
The Eisenhower Foundation declined to sign, saying in a statement that “we have had no collective discussion about it, only an invitation to sign.”