House Republicans have elected Rep. Mike Johnson as the new speaker of the House of Representatives. Johnson is known for leading the charge to deny President Biden’s certification and an attempt to overturn a democratic election. A year out from the next presidential election, House Republicans have made it crystal clear they are leaning into full-on election denialism. Rather than being in the rearview mirror, the threats to our democracy continue to grow.

Biden is aware of the high stakes, and he recently spoke out on the dangers of hate, political violence, MAGA extremism and the degrading integrity of our institutions, calling these threats to our democracy the central issue of his presidency. Now, he must act to secure that legacy by spending the next year using the full power of his office to combat corruption, protect voting rights and reaffirm the rule of law.

Attempts to subvert our democracy aren’t a thing of the past or limited to Donald Trump’s efforts to remain in power. Today, our freedom to vote is under attack by extremist state legislators nationwide. Since the 2020 election, dozens of states have passed restrictive legislation, with at least 13 anti-voter bills in 2023 alone.

Meanwhile, billionaires, corporate donors, and shady secret-money groups continue to funnel money into our elections. The Republican primaries are predicted to cost more than a billion dollars. Election deniers continue to loom large, and election workers still face harassment and threats of political violence.

We desperately need congressional action to combat corruption and protect voting rights. We should do that by passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Unfortunately, instead of standing up for our voting rights, the MAGA GOP-led House of Representatives seems poised to double down on election denial.

Fortunately, there are some things Biden can do unilaterally without waiting for congressional action. With a stroke of his pen, the president can take essential steps to protect our voting rights, rein in secret political spending, fight the influence of corrupt money, and enhance transparency in his administration. 

For example, he can require government contractors to disclose their political spending, addressing a huge loophole created by the disastrous Citizens United court decision that increased the flow of secret money into our political system. He can also direct the Justice Department to use the Treasury’s new beneficial ownership database to catch corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as direct the department to determine the frequency and amount of foreign money spent in connection with U.S. elections. He can also establish a White House Office of Democracy or a new task force. 

Centralizing democracy protection efforts across the country would highlight the importance of the work.

The president knows what’s at stake. In his recent Phoenix speech, he acknowledged how “damaged our institutions of democracy … have become in the eyes of the American people, even the world.” Taking these steps to fight corruption and protect democracy would signal to the American people, and the world, that at least the executive branch is taking action to preserve the integrity of our institutions.

The United States is hosting the U.N. Convention Against Corruption in Atlanta in December, focusing on ways to advance anti-corruption policy priorities. By committing to use his power to fight corruption ahead of the conference, Biden could lead by example and help restore faith in American democracy on the world stage.

With the next election coming soon, it is imperative that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris do everything in their power to protect the franchise. Voter intimidation and threats to poll workers by right-wing extremist forces are growing, and the president has been speaking out about the risks of political violence. They must build on this crucial rhetoric, taking bold steps to show their commitment to democracy reform.

We are at a historic inflection point, and Biden has the opportunity to help direct our nation away from hate, violence and chaos and toward democracy and fairness. We need presidential action to help steer the course in our fight to combat corruption and realize a democracy where all of us have the freedom to vote without intimidation and where the peaceful transfer of power following an election is unquestioned and uncontested.