Key Words: U.S. ‘democratic institutions and norms are more vulnerable than ever,’ ex-military leaders warn

“‘Today, we harbor unprecedented concern for our country and for our democracy. The nation we have defended for decades is in real peril. ‘”

That was an excerpt from a USA Today op-ed written by five former military members who are urging Americans and politicians to follow democratic norms and support democratic institutions.

“For those of us devoted to protecting democracies abroad, there comes a time when our efforts seem overshadowed by the erosion of democracy here at home” the op-ed states. “And for those of us focused on domestic security, the forces of autocracy now trump traditional foreign threats, hands down.”

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These are the public servants who put their names on the op-ed:

Gen. Michael Hayden (U.S. Air Force) is the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, director of the National Security Agency and principal deputy director of National Intelligence. 

Lt. Gen. James Clapper (U.S. Air Force) served as director of National Intelligence, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and director of Defense Intelligence, while also serving as undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. 

Gen. Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army) served as commander of Joint Special Operations Command. 

Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute (U.S. Army) served as the U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2013-2017. 

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, (U.S. Army) served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army.

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The piece also advocates for U.S. politicians to join the Safe and Fair Elections Pledge (SAFE), a nonpartisan pledge that asks elected officials to “strengthen our national security by pledging themselves to democracy, safe and fair elections, and the rule of law,” their website states.

The story comes as Americans trust in democracy has eroded in recent years. According to a January poll from Ipsos/NPR, 64% of Americans think democracy in the U.S. is “in crisis an at risk of failing.”

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Two-thirds of self-identifying Republicans believe the false claim that mass voter fraud aided President Joe Biden 2020 election win, the poll shows.

“There is really a sort of dual reality through which partisans are approaching not only what happened a year ago on Jan. 6, but also generally with our presidential election and our democracy,” Ipsos VP Mallory Newall said.

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The Jan. 6. committee is currently holding several hearings further detailing the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in 2021. The committee has interviewed over 1,000 people who were directly or indirectly involved in the attack on the capitol.

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