WASHINGTON— President Joe Biden opened the first-ever White House Summit for Democracy Thursday by urging participants to reverse an ongoing "recession" of democracy.
"American democracy is an ongoing struggle," Biden said during remarks Thursday morning. "Democracy doesn't happen by accident. We have to renew it with every generation."
Biden's speech kicked off a two-day virtual event. According to the State Department, the summit will "bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action."
Biden noted that the summit marks the start of a year-long White House project that will investigate how to promote democratic values at home and around the world.
Part of the Biden administration's work will include defining a "free and fair election" and investigating how to thwart foreign countries from using modern technologies to suppress democratic values.
"These trends are being exacerbated by global factors that are more complicated than ever," Biden said.
The summit has already drawn backlash from some of the United States' adversaries and nations that weren't invited. Ambassadors to the U.S. from China and Russia wrote a joint essay describing the Biden administration as exhibiting a "Cold-War mentality" that will "stoke up ideological confrontation."
The summit comes as U.S. democracy faces challenges to its institutions and traditions. States are passing laws that make it more difficult to vote, and the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol has left many Republicans clinging to Donald Trump's false claims of a stolen election.