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Democracy is back on policymakers’ minds. U.S. President Joe Biden plans to host a summit on the theme, and invitations to a host of events on democracy and human rights fill my inbox.

This renewed focus is not good news. Rather, it reflects the erosion of both democracy and respect for human rights in recent years. Freedom House reports that less than 20% of the world’s population now live in what it categorizes as fully free societies, the lowest share in more than a quarter century. Many countries are drifting steadily toward authoritarianism.

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