Thomas O. Melia and Peter Wehner Discuss Promoting Democracy

March 1, 2018
by Xander Causwell

On February 27, 2018, the Master of Science in Foreign Service and the Georgetown Democracy and Governance Program hosted George W. Bush Institute Human Freedom Fellows Thomas O. Melia (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy & Human Rights) and Peter Wehner (senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center) for a discussion on strengthening democracy at home and abroad. The basis of the conversation was a “Call to Action” paper published by a bipartisan team of scholars on behalf of the Bush Institute.

Both Melia and Wehner made the case that civic institutions are crucial to democracy. Americans have been steadily losing faith and participating less in those institutions, which weakens the American democratic system. Therefore, the speakers advocated encouraging institutions to become more accountable, which will help restore the people’s faith in them.

“Institutions are really the manifestation of our associative life: institutions are the things that create us and shape us as human beings, as citizens, as neighbors, and as friends…Strong institutions produce strong and engaged citizens, and weak institutions produce weak and isolated ones,” Wehner said.

Melia and Wehner also discussed the importance of promoting democracy worldwide, which is not only essential for global human liberty but also for encouraging peace between countries.

“The Democratic Peace Thesis has just a lot of reinforcing evidence from over the years: democracies don’t go to war, they tend to treat their own people better, they tend to have more ways to solve conflict without violence both domestically and internationally.” – Melia