It was signed by such well-known Americans as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster, former U.S. Sens. Tom Daschle and Gary Hart, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, and Hollywood actor Richard Gere.
Nobel Prize winners José Ramos-Horta and Svetlana Alexievich, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and leaders from many different countries also signed.
“On the contrary,” it says, “these assaults on freedom, transparency, and democracy will make it more difficult for societies to respond quickly and effectively to the crisis through both government and civic action.”
To prove their point, the authors drew a connection between China as the starting place of the pandemic and the country’s undemocratic governing system, “where the free flow of information is stifled and where the government punished those warning about the dangers of the virus.”
Notwithstanding “authoritarian propaganda,” the letter continues, democracy is the best system even when societies face a “crisis of the magnitude and complexity of Covid-19” because essential tools to fight diseases, like the free flow of information, are key elements of liberal democracy.
The coronavirus crisis is both a “formidable global challenge” and “an alarming wake-up call,” meaning that people who care about democracy ought to “summon the will … and the solidarity to defend it,” according to the authors.