Supporters of Jovenel Moise protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 9. (Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

The assertion in the March 14 editorial “Democracy in retreat” that the United States is “partly responsible” for recent global democratic setbacks was right but for the wrong reasons. The primary fault lies not in our often inept democracy-building projects in scores of countries around the world but in our growing lack of credibility on the subject.

A well-publicized 2014 Princeton University report spelled out what people both here and abroad have long suspected: “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” This is borne out by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures that show that wealth inequality is higher in the United States than in any other industrialized nation.

How are we to expect Iraqis, Haitians, Congolese and others to listen to our lectures on the redemptive power of democracy and equality when we ourselves have lazily allowed it to slip through our fingers?

Chris Hennemeyer, Bethesda