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An open letter to the Honorable Mr. Joseph R. Biden

Former Vice President of the United States of America

Democratic Party Candidate for President of the United States of America

Dear Sir,

It is with great warmth and hope that we welcome your candidacy for president of the United States, a country that has played a unique role in our history.

From the moment of its birth, the United States of America wanted to be a "city upon the hill" – a beacon of hope for those who desired freedom and democracy, justice and equality. This is how, as a role model, the United States was perceived by five and a half million Poles who signed a letter of thanks to the American people in 1926. For it was the United States which, after World War I, successfully raised the issue of Polish independence, and at the end of the 20th century played a vital role for us by supporting the wave of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, shedding the yoke of communism. 

In the 1990s, we succumbed to the illusion that history had ended in the ultimate victory of liberal democracy. And yet the story continues. A wave of populism undermines pluralistic democracies, creating the illusion in societies that an authoritarian system can deal more effectively with current problems. Globalization has created unimaginable opportunities, but also serious threats.  Stunned by the changes, people feel frustrated by growing and unjust wealth inequity, disregard for the truth and the undermining of authorities in the media, but above all, the sense of losing their own identity. Populist leaders, cynical and irresponsible, take power by proposing an identity built on hatred of the Other: immigrant, homosexual, Jew or Muslim. They create an appearance of justice with calculated hand-outs, while at the same time allowing corruption to flourish, if it serves to strengthen their power. They awaken national egoisms, and treat international institutions and alliances with contempt, simply as a business forum where zero-sum play takes place. They destroy the international order without proposing anything other than rivalry for power in return.                                                          

In 2000, Madeleine Albright and Bronisław Geremek initiated the Community of Democracies in Warsaw, a loose formula for cooperation between states and civil societies to expand democracy in the world. At that time, we were proud of our successful transformation, of our newly created democratic institutions. We did not imagine how easily they could be lost. Freedom House currently ranks Poland as a "semi-consolidated democracy". The separation of powers, the rule of law and the completely destroyed freedom of the public media, all are at risk. Therefore, it is with such concern that we observe events in Belarus. The festival of freedom of Belarusians is a unique moment in the life of a generation, a moment when "history and hope rhyme", as you aptly quoted Seamus Heaney in your nominating speech at the DNC. The explosion of opposition to injustices in Belarus proves that history continues and in it lives the yearning for freedom. That opposition to enslavement is an act of identity of free people.

Whether it appears in Minsk, Caracas, or Hong Kong, it is worthy of our admiration, respect, and support. We know that you Sir, share this view. We also know that you want to restore America's leadership, but in this best sense, as a leader of freedom and democracy, not just a guardian of its own interests. We believe that it is possible to rebuild the Transatlantic Community. It is with conviction that we sign up to this vision of American politics, the vision you outlined in “Foreign Affairs”.

Hope is always part of history, although it only occasionally rhymes with history. We hope that your victory in the upcoming elections will halt the wave of populism. People need to stop fearing each other, the world needs to rebuild pluralistic democracy, positive international cooperation, for the good of all. In such a world, for us in Poland too, it will be easier to restore the rule of law.

The world of free people, though not always living in a free world, wishes you victory Sir, so that, as you put it so beautifully, "light is more powerful than dark."

Piotr Ogrodziński

Former Ambassador of The Republic of Poland to Canada

Ryszard Schnepf

Former Ambassador of The Republic of Poland to USA

Jan Truszczyński

Former Ambassador of The Republic of Poland to the EU

Warsaw, September 9, 2020.

 ***

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