National Summit for Democracy

Last week, PEA had the great honor of facilitating the National Summit for Democracy in Washington, DC, hosted by two organizations, Stand Up Ideas (SUI) and Protect Democracy (PD), committed to the defense of American norms, ideals, and institutions.

The intent of the summit was to “convene an ideologically diverse group of activists and advocates to develop powerful and practical strategies to protect U.S. democracy against the increased risk of authoritarian government.”

SUI was co-founded by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn. McMullin, who formerly served in the CIA and as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, also ran for president as an independent in 2016. Finn, a former Republican presidential campaign adviser, digital media executive and founder of Empowered Women, was also McMullin’s running mate. PD was founded by Ian Bassin, who served as Associate White House Counsel to President Obama from 2009-2011.

PEA led a comprehensive design effort in January and February leading up to the 1.5-day summit. In hosting nearly 100 participants, we knew that most of the work and dialogue needed to take place among smaller groups on more focused topics. After considerable deliberation, we determined seven working groups that would work to develop practical strategies to pursue over the next 12-24 months:

  • Mitigating Foreign Interference in Our Democratic Process
  • Strengthening Media’s Future Role in Our Democracy
  • Protecting the Independence of Federal Law Enforcement
  • Preventing the Politicization of Government Institutions
  • Restoring Congress’s Constitutional Role
  • Fostering Representation and Competition in Our Political System
  • Guaranteeing a More Inclusive America

Onsite, the 90+ participants met four separate times in intensive dialogue across Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday. Late in the day Wednesday, each group presented up to a dozen recommendations for consideration and after a flurry of voting and prioritizing, the whole group narrowed the recommendations down to the top 3 on all seven topics.

At the end of the summit, Stand Up Ideas and Protect Democracy committed to convening an ongoing network of organizations and individuals to keep the momentum going in support of this emerging agenda to protect American democracy.

We look forward to watching this network grow in strength and stature to play this essential role over the next couple of years.

The summit also featured a Tuesday night, keynote dinner with Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and a Wednesday, lunch-time, panel of democracy activists from Russia, Poland, and Egypt. The Washington Post ran an article that focused largely on the keynotes: WaPo article