Our Takes

China has caught up to the United States in several critical and emerging technologies, but the United States can still retain its edge—if it plays its cards right, starting now, Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said in her testimony before the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Spain’s rejection of the far right and their conservative allies in Sunday’s election was unexpected, Head of European Operations Vassilis Ntousas and Kristina Kausch write for GMF, and sends a signal to conservative parties across Europe that embracing the extremes will not pay off at the ballot box, they argue in Politico Europe.

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Q&A with Managing Director Rachael Dean Wilson

For the next seven weeks, the Securing Democracy Dispatch will publish a Q&A highlighting one of ASD’s senior team members. This week, we sat down with Rachael Dean Wilson, managing director here at ASD, to discuss politics and democracy.

What first made you realize you wanted to work to safeguard US democracy?

My background is in politics and government. I worked for Senator John McCain for six years and that experience really sharpened my belief that our democracy and freedom are a privilege, one that is ours to protect and not take for granted. I became interested in ASD’s work in particular after Russian interference in the 2016 election and the idea that our foreign adversaries were trying to use our strengths against us. The basic premise of much of Russia’s interference campaign in 2016—that a divided, chaotic United States is a win for Russia—is unacceptable to me. Divided is not how the United States moves forward. Coming from politics and working for someone who challenged all of us to live up to the promise of this country, I knew I wanted to focus on figuring out how to unite Americans in standing up to these threats and do it in a way that makes our democracy stronger.

As one of ASD’s managing directors, you oversee the US-focused work. Where do you think ASD can have the biggest impact leading up to the 2024 election?

What I’m most excited about right now is ASD’s cross collaboration between Lindsay Gorman, who leads our tech and geopolitics work, and David Levine, who leads our elections integrity work. They are blending together their expertise and knowledge to create strategies for the elections community to use in navigating the constantly changing threats from artificial intelligence. The issue of AI is new to a lot of people in the election space who are now pros (unfortunately) at dealing with mis- and disinformation, but less familiar with the ways in which  AI could enable mis- and disinformation on a whole other scale. This collaboration is a proof point for ASD at GMF, showcasing why we have experts from different disciplines that can combine their expertise to really meet the moment.

What do you consider the greatest threat to US democracy right now?

The erosion of trust. The erosion of trust in institutions, the erosion of trust in our democracy, but even more importantly, the erosion of trust in each other. I mean that on the national and very local level. If we’re going to rebuild trust, it starts with our neighbors. We can have technical solutions all day long to these problems, but if we don’t have that trust, then those technical solutions are bandaids. They’re important bandaids, but they’re still bandaids.

What is one trend or statistic that you are watching heading into 2024?

The shrinking political parties in this country. There was a recent poll that showed people in the United States’ party affiliation, and it showed that 25% of people identified as Republican, 25% of people identified as Democrats, leaving approximately 50% independent. Fifty percent of Americans are not straight up in the middle independent, they simply don’t want to be affiliated with the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. I’m all for political independence, but that independent group is not mobilizing or participating in the same way that people that are sticking with the parties are. Because of our two-party system there isn’t an obvious way for those people to participate. It will be important to see if that political middle can assert itself, and if so, what does that look like?

What is one book you’re reading?

I’m reading Not One Inch by ME Sarotte about the expansion of NATO and how decisions made by post-Cold War leaders still impact much of today’s geopolitics. I’m always reading multiple books at once, which doesn’t mean that I am finishing any of them quickly, but what I read depends on my mood. The other one I’m reading is A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders. And it’s essentially a class on Russian short stories.

Quote of the Week

“For decades, we have allowed China to execute its global technology dominance strategy largely unimpeded, naively assuming that economic integration would bring about political liberalization, and ignorant of how that interdependence would be weaponized against US interests and values.”

  • ASD’s Senior Fellow for Emerging Technologies Lindsay Gorman said during her oral testimony to the House Committee on the Chinese Communist Party in Washington, DC on July 26.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.