Democracy

Ron Howard

July 25, 2018

“Keep encouraging friends and co-workers to register and vote. We need to remind the world, the politicians and ourselves that this democracy is supported by its citizens. Big turnout please. Both parties! Massive Turnout”

“Resistance becomes duty.”

July 22, 2018

Plutotic oligarchy organized as a republic…only democratic in theory if the people vote…and they typically don’t. In 2016? Turnout was the lowest in two decades…55.7% voted…48% (Hillary) To 46% (DT). The Electoral College, 538 members, elected the 45th president, a majority of 270 votes, in December of 2016.

DT received 304 electoral votes, Clinton, 227, while Colin Powell won 3 and John Kasich, Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Faith Spotted Eagle each received 1.

So, in essence 304 people elected our current president. 

#AbolishElectoralCollege

“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” -Thomas Jefferson

The Moral Basics of Democracy, by Eleanor Roosevelt

With the threat of the Third Reich looming, Eleanor Roosevelt employs the history of human rights to establish the idea that at the core of democracy is a spiritual responsibility to other citizens. Roosevelt then calls on all Americans, especially the youth, to prioritize the well-being of others and have faith that their fellow citizens will protect them in return. She defines this trust between people as a trait of true democracy.
 
Roosevelt advances an optimistic model for the democracy of the future, and although we’ve taken some steps in the direction of her vision, it’s still a long way from reality. The issues first addressed in this 1940 essay—namely financial inequality and racial discrimination—are sadly still relevant today, as bigotry continues to undermine our national unity.
 
Her first publication as first lady, The Moral Basis of Democracy is an honest and heartfelt call for all Americans to choose love and faith over hatred and fear. Roosevelt takes an inspiring stance in defense of democracy, progress, and morality; the wisdom imparted here is timeless, and a must-read for every American.


“Dear God, Please bless our country at this difficult time. Protect and bless our democracy, Deliver us to a better place, And guide us to the Light That will lead us through this storm.”

Amen

-Marianne Williamson


“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

-Will Rogers


“Democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.”

-President Barack Obama


‘Civic Participation & Democracy are Synonymous’

March 27, 2018

Civic Participation Begins in Schools

Stanford Social Innovation Review

Fostering a robust democracy in America requires that we create a truly democratic school culture.

‘Generations of young people growing up in the United States have witnessed a sustained institutional disregard for equal rights, freedom of speech, voting rights, and access to decent housing. Young people in this era are particularly disillusioned about a democracy in which Twitter wars at the federal level become an acceptable substitute for dialogue and debate about substantive matters.

Many schools have failed to prepare our youngest citizens to become stewards of democracy, possessing the knowledge and skills required for active and engaged citizenship. Statistics demonstrating this failure are plentiful: Only one-third of Americans can name all branches of government, and one-third cannot name any at all. 37 percent of Americans cannot name any of the rights guaranteed in the first amendment. And perhaps the most worrisome statistic: Only 33 percent of Americans born after 1980 consider democracy essential, while 24 percent of young people consider democracy a bad way to govern a country.

Today’s nationwide toxic environment provides an impetus for articulating a more inspiring and citizen-centric vision for our public schools. This new vision includes re-imagining schools as laboratories of democracy, enlisting young people as co-collaborators with educators and local community members as partners in constructing the democracy our country both needs and deserves. Rather than exhorting young people to understand a staid conceptualization of democracy that reduces their own agency in the ever-changing American narrative, there is an opportunity for schools to engage our youth as legitimate political actors who can help us re-envision the very practice and values associated with democracy.

We can transform schools into beacons of democracy by ensuring that schools focus on centering education in the communities in which they are located, by constructing classes that are relevant to students’ lives, and by creating a democratic culture within school walls.

The process begins with a greater respect for the community in which school are situated. Students need to understand that the community is a place where citizens make their wants and needs known, and work together to solve communal challenges. Community members need to see the success of young people as relevant to the success of the community. Elected officials can learn to recognize students as purveyors of important local civic knowledge, capable of informing the most complex policy debates. Young people have a place in the community’s discourse and action, and it is important for them to experience the messiness and the satisfaction alike of the democratic process.

Our democracy may indeed be at risk, but an appreciation for our unprecedented times opens up unprecedented possibilities. A foundational reorientation of the purpose of public education can enable our youngest generation to not only understand democracy but also participate in creating a better version of it. We may have not yet created a democracy stable enough for future generations. But young people can help to create a better one.‘

[full article: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/civic_participation_begins_in_schools]

Sylvia Rousseau & Scott Warren

 

Democracy, Media Literacy, Civic Engagement

February 17, 2018

“The Americans are very impressionable people; they see what they want to see. I have a lot of respect for them. I am not upset at all that I ended up on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see him.”

Russian Oligarch Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, one of 13 Russians indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday, February 16th, 2018, for interfering in the American election.

Full Indictment:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/16/us/politics/document-The-Special-Counsel-s-Indictment-of-the-Internet.html

“Facebook, Twitter and Google have all identified the Internet Research Agency as a prime source of provocative posts on divisive American issues, including race, religion, gun laws and gay rights, particularly during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook found, for example, that the agency had posted 80,000 pieces of content that reached more than 126 million Americans.” [NYTimes]

Tedx Wandsworth/2.8.18

Imagine a world where democracy lives up to its lofty promise… where problems are solved by debate and compromise rather than vitriol and internet trolls. A nice thought isn’t it?” asks Brian Klaas. As a scholar of democracy and authoritarianism, he’s seen fear-and-division politics rising across the world, but says we’re more powerful than we think in reversing this trend. Beyond the uncomfortable stats of our civic shortcomings; he shares moments with those he’s met risking their freedom and their lives for a democratic choice; and offers five concrete ways we can start changing what we don’t like.

Thoughts from Brian Klaas:

Democracies around the world are dying. Remember: Being a citizen is a full time job.

V

O

T

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#2018

People who say, “my vote doesn’t matter”? Wrong.

Politicians pander to those who vote. (Who votes in majority? Older white males.)

Democracies are dying. One man in Russia who was being followed by the secret police told Klaas, “You don’t know how lucky you are.”

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

-David Foster Wallace

We need to remember how powerful we are.

Of the people.

By the people.

For the people.

Ongoing paradox: People are unhappy with the system, but not many do much to understand it…or do anything.

In the midterm election in 2014, 36% of registered voters voted. 64/100 didn’t bother.

In the 2016 presidential election? 60% voted. And the current president was voted in by 30% of the US population. Apathy voted a candidate into the Oval Office.

80,000 people tipped the election…enough to fit into a football stadium.

We get the candidates we deserve.

P  A  R  T  I  C  I  P  A  T  I  O  N

Our collective power to save democracy:

  1. Vote in every election…local and national, because the local candidates become national candidates.

  2. Before the election talk to 10 people before voting.

  3. Be the boss to your politicians; they work for us. Whether they agree with you or not, tell them how you feel.

  4. Reach out to someone who believes completely differently from what you believe. And listen.

  5. Run for office or organize a new political group.

Actions become ripples and those ripples become tsunamis.

Think about it. If women waited for an invitation, we still wouldn’t have the right to vote.

2018 is ours. And the youth? They are activating.

︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶

Go see it. It will give you hope. (Stay until the very final credit rolls.) ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Stand Up Ideas

January 19, 2018

When Nazi planes dropped bombs on London, Edward R. Murrow climbed to the rooftops. Despite personal risk & the fear his signal would lead bombers straight to him, he brought the horrors of Hitler’s war to the ears of listeners around the world.

[Stand Up Ideas: Founded by Evan McMullin, & Mindy Finn to strengthen Americans’ commitment to democratic ideals & norms through civic education & leadership development.]

https://standupideas.com

Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.

Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.

‘Moral treason.’

November 16, 2017

How Trump and the Republican Party will go down in history

by /Sasha Abramsky

Rescue our soul.

June 7, 2017

‘But if not for ourselves, at least for our children, we should unite to respond to these attacks on our lives, liberties and the environment. In his poem “Let America be America Again,” Langston Hughes says,’

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

‘It is indeed possible that after this period of turmoil we may reach that beautiful stage when democracy and justice will come back to America. As Leonard Cohen says in his song “Democracy,”’

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean

I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.

And I’m neither left or right

I’m just staying home tonight,

getting lost in that hopeless little screen.

But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags

that Time cannot decay,

I’m junk but I’m still holding up

this little wild bouquet:

Democracy is coming to the USA.

By:Cesar Chelala| MAY 31, 2017 Bill Moyers & Co


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEBlaMOmKV4

‘…the heart has got to open in a fundamental way.’

April 15, 2017

To bridge to the chasms of ‘siloed’ ideologies and the echo chambers of polarized media, if we open our hearts to listen, deeply listen, and connect empathy, I believe we will bridge the chasms when we discover shared foundational common values for people and democracy. We the people.

[Maria Popova]

“In this time of dire need for “a revelation in the heart,” when the values of democracy are continually misconstrued and misused, Cohen’s immortal words come to life in a beautiful short film — part tribute to Cohen, part fundraiser for Pen America, part public service to lift the human spirit, narrated by Neil Gaiman, with music by Amanda Palmer  and gorgeous watercolor art by David Mack and Olga Nunes. 

[J.D. Vance]

“In this compelling hybrid of memoir and sociological analysis, Vance digs deep into his upbringing in the hills of Jackson, Ky., and the suburban enclave of Middletown, Ohio. He chronicles with affection—and raw candor—the foibles, shortcomings, and virtues of his family and their own attempts to live their lives as working-class people in a middle-class world. […] Vance observes that hillbillies like himself are helped not by government policy but by community that empowers them and extended family who encourages them to take control of their own destinies. Vance’s dynamic memoir takes a serious look at class.”

-Publisher’s Weekly

[Mother Jones]

In the many year Stacy Krantiz has been documenting life in Appalachia—as seen in her ongoing project As it was Give(n) to Me—she has deftly navigated the minefield that comes with photographing in this often misrepresented part of the county. At least since Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the 1941 book by writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans* that chronicled the lives of poverty-stricken sharecroppers in the South, residents have rightfully complained about how outsiders have portrayed them in photographs—nothing short of a kind of visual openmouthed gawking and pointing. By living with her subjects, Krantiz challenges and plays with common stereotypes of the beautiful hill region of southern Ohio, West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky. Kranitz’s photos show her living it up with the subjects of her photos, deeply embedded, fully embraced, sometimes even appearing in the images herself. She photographs as a member of the family, showing the good and the beautiful, along with the bad and the ugly. Nothing to hide.

These two women are working on a mural depicting coal miners in an underground mine. The mural is part of the “turn this town around” grant that also supported the Mine Wars museum. It is across the street from the union in downtown Matewan. The artists are Ellen Hatfield and Vera Hankins. 

http://m.motherjones.com/environment/2015/09/life-mingo-county-home-king-coal

For additional perspective, watch Rory Kennedy’s poignant documentary, “American Hollow”. It is the story of one Appalachian family living in a hallow of Kentucky for seven generations. Kennedy chronicles their lives for one year. [1999]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qTjfABqsQs

 

 

Gilgamesh ’45’

February 19, 2017

In the Assyrian tale of Gilgamesh, over seven thousand years old, the lost and empty king doesn’t listen to the pain in his heart and so mistakenly declares war on Nature, projecting his pain as something to be conquered in the world.

How many times do we project our pain onto the world, rather than face the emptiness in our heart? How many times have we all been given a sign of what might help us find our way only to smash the sign, out of grief, impatience, or anger?

Projecting our pain, grief, impatience, and anger on others, abdicating our gifts to please a loved one, rejecting new learning because it challenges what is familiar, exiling others because they threaten our position or identity, and denying difficulty in hopes that it will go away – – these are all form of not listening that can undermine our aliveness in any given moment.

-Mark Nepo


Washington Post

All would be well, he said, so long as the people made sure always to elect political leaders who were “wise and good.”

By the time we reach ancient Greece, philosophers like Plato start to offer formal definitions of the tyrannical soul, and the picture is one of the person who defrauds freely, takes violently, lies consistently, robs and kills. Think of ’45’ saying last year about terrorism suspects, “You have to take out their families.” Think of his remark, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

For many years, I’ve taught Plato’s “Gorgias” and “Republic,” where the tyrannical soul is described. Never did I think we would have a walking, talking example from American politics in front of us 24-7. But here we are. I don’t invoke ’45’ when we discuss passages about the tyrant in those texts. But the comparisons are so obvious that after class my students tend to make small, quiet remarks to me about it.

While the institutions of constitutional democracy were invented to make it easier to rein people in, those who did the work of drafting the Constitution never thought that institutions alone could solve the job. On the cusp of the Constitution’s ratification, founder James Wilson paused to ponder what it would take for the reorganized representative democracy to succeed. All would be well, he said, so long as the people made sure always to elect political leaders who were “wise and good.” The president and other elected officials, he pointed out, would populate the bureaucracies of the new nation. If they themselves were wise and good, they would also populate all the offices of the country with the wise and good. If they were not, then corruption would spread through the entire system.

This election has moved past questions of ideology and partisan position to fundamental elements of the human condition, elements so fundamental that we can find them recorded in the earliest human texts. From the beginning of human history, when tyrannical souls have acquired power, the people have found themselves groaning and crying out with laments under the burden of it.

Character matters because it is how we restrain the inner would-be tyrant in each one of us. It matters because it is how we limit the placement of great power in the hands of those with tyrannical instincts and appetites. If we’ve given up a commitment to character, we’ve already given up the game or, to speak more precisely, the work of protecting freedom, equality and human flourishing.

-Danielle Allen/Political Theorist at Harvard University

‘Greatest office in democracy? Citizen.’

January 12, 2017

︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
Democracy is the most fragile thing on earth, for what does it rest upon? You and me, and the fact that we agree to maintain it. The moment either of us says we will not, that’s the end of it. It doesn’t rest on anything but us; it doesn’t rest on armed force, the moment it does it isn’t democracy. It isn’t something to kick around or experiment with.
-Allen Drury, Stanford University
[age 19]

It begins, with us.

August 24, 2016

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‘Real power belongs to those who control the economy.’

January 31, 2016

‘We mistakenly believe that capitalism begets inevitably democracy. It doesn’t.’

TED

“Have you wondered why politicians aren’t what they used to be, why governments seem unable to solve real problems? Economist Yanis Varoufakis, the former Minister of Finance for Greece, says that it’s because you can be in politics today but not be in power — because real power now belongs to those who control the economy. He believes that the mega-rich and corporations are cannibalizing the political sphere, causing financial crisis. In this talk, hear his dream for a world in which capital and labor no longer struggle against each other, “one that is simultaneously libertarian, Marxist and Keynesian.”

‘Get the dough out of politics!’

July 14, 2015

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http://www.benjerry.com/values/issues-we-care-about/get-the-dough-out-of-politics

From PBS’ Tavis Smiley…

May 1, 2015

“It’s a dignity thing — democracy is threatened by racism and poverty…”

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