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Impact: Movements are essential to promote democracy and maintain democratic peace



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Impact: Movements are essential to promote democracy and maintain democratic peace


Murphy 20 [Chris, US Senator for Connecticut and member of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Foreign Affairs, "A New Civil Rights Movement Is a Foreign Policy Win: This Is What Democracy Looks Like" June 12, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2020-06-12/new-civil-rights-movement-foreign-policy-win
The attraction of a democracy is the ability of ordinary people to decide their future and for those same ordinary people to join with one another in collective action to right long-standing wrongs. In the United States, the power of the status quo is such that successful instances of major, grassroots-led change are few and far between. But when change does occur—as happened during the first civil rights movement—it reminds the world of the awesome power of the United States and its model of governance. The signs held aloft at the 1968 Democratic convention read: “The Whole World Is Watching,” and indeed it was. As the civil rights movement of the 1960s scored victories, the propaganda efforts of the Soviet Union lost steam. Americans’ ability to candidly wrestle with Jim Crow undermined the Soviet critiques of their country and weakened global communism.
Further, these moments of collective mobilization for civil rights act as earthquakes, sending shock waves all over the world. Shen Tong, one of the leaders of China’s 1989 democracy protests, named Martin Luther King, Jr., as his inspiration. Patrick Lekota, a major figure in the antiapartheid movement in South Africa, said the American civil rights movement was “highly studied material.Polish Solidarity leaders invited U.S. civil rights leaders to instruct them on the tactics of nonviolent action. When Americans stand up successfully for their own rights as human beings, it gives inspiration and confidence to others, alighting the world in civil rights and democratic activism.
Finally, just as Lippmann argued in 1957, taking action to address long-standing racial inequality will also neutralize a key propaganda argument by foreign adversaries. Authoritarian governments, such as China and Russia, seize on existing racial divisions to argue that the United States doesn’t live up to its own ideals. They did not create these divisions but relish in exacerbating them—and do so using increasingly sophisticated social media tools and strategies. But everyday American citizens can flip that argument on its head by demonstrating their capacity to bring about meaningful, systemic change through collective action.
It is too early to tell if the Black Lives Matter movement will end up being as enduring, significant, or successful as the movement that resulted in forced desegregation, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act. But maybe the country is at the dawn of a second civil rights movement that will prompt fundamental reforms to its systems of law enforcement, criminal justice, housing, and school finance. Could it also be that Americans’ ability to squarely confront their demons and use the tools of democracy to profoundly alter the status quo will relight the country’s torch in the eyes of the world? Might simmering human rights campaigns and democracy movements around the world find new strength, watching millions of ordinary Americans, powerless on their own, move a nation to long-overdue action through collective strength?
Three and a half years of Donald Trump serving as the face of the United States have done incalculable damage to the country’s standing in the world. It will take a truly exceptional turn of events to reverse this downward slide of American reputation and influence. But what has happened in our imperfect, always-correcting nation over the past two weeks is truly exceptional. And maybe—just maybe—the country’s second civil rights movement will be its best chance to reset its image and influence around the world.

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