Much of the press coverage about the Supreme Court confirmation process, mainstream and otherwise, has been about the alleged low quality of tactics undertaken by...
Monday, September 17, is Constitution Day. It’s a good excuse to think about a few things. First of all, what’s the big deal about having a constitution? For the...
Mahathir Mohamad, George Wallace, and the 2018 Malaysian election.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (center), the...
With the composition of the Supreme Court being so consequential, the Senate has an eternal obligation to confirm justices who will defend the constitution on a non-partisan basis for all people within our borders. We hope citizens will ask their senators to go beyond that and make support for free, fair, and accountable democracy one of their major confirmation criteria.
The right to free speech is an integral part of modern democracy. Abuse that right and you abuse democracy. Take that abuse too far and you won’t have free speech any more.
Cruelty towards immigrants practice puts our democracy at risk, along with our ability to advocate for persecuted minorities overseas.
Our constitution gives the media a central and protected role in our democracy. Our founding fathers expected the media would help hold leaders accountable and also help educate voters (and legislators) about the pros and cons of various policy options. The media have never been especially polite in doing the job the founder fathers gave them: personal attacks on political leaders started early on. In the last many years, however, many media owners have directed their staff to set fires and then pour gasoline on them.
The first amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to a free press (TV, radio, newspapers, blogs, social media). This is a right worth fighting for. The press that you don’t like today might be a very important friend at other times in your life.
Policy driven by loyalty, passion, and frustration can lead to unintended consequences.
Democracy is not dying everywhere, or even in most places. Here is an example from Slovakia. The action started just a few months ago and the people are winning!
Another illustration of the definition of insanity: recently the Washington Post published a story on how many voters and party officials in both parties seem to think more...
Things have changed between the time of the founding fathers and now. On the one hand, the USA now has an extremely well-armed military force, while most state and local governments have well-armed police forces, and all of those forces are under the control of elected civilian leaders. On the other hand, the USA has a far higher rate of gun deaths and mass shootings than most citizens are willing to accept. Whether and how things should be re-balanced are open questions suitable for respectful debate.
The US Constitution requires a census every 10 years. The census is mandatory because it affects the numbers of seats each state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives. It also affects...
We should all understand that very few of us would have a vote or a political voice if we collectively fail to defend constitutional and legal limits on political behavior.
Defending democracy is inherently difficult. Reminding ourselves why the job is so problematic helps point the way towards a more effective defense.
Would you shoot your chief of police because he arrested your best friend? Or would you malign his reputation in a very public way? If you did, could you count on him to help you later? Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
In a democracy, people need to trust that they will be treated fairly. They need to know they can vote like anyone else, that they will be treated just as well as anyone else, regardless of how they vote, and that elected officials will feel as accountable to them as anyone else.
What if those in power now could be given assurances that they could continue to compete politically all across the nation – if they end their dangerous tactics of retaliation and entrenchment – combined with assurances that today’s opposition will also swear off such tactics? Doing so would allow everyone to return to the business of getting better results for our country, for our children, and for our grandchildren. All that is required is that elected officials look out for the public interest instead of governing in pursuit of their self interest – and for each of us to insist they do so.
The religious tolerance and freedom that our founding fathers gave birth to is something to celebrate – and something each of us can uphold personally.
On Thanksgiving Day, let’s give thanks for all the people who make up our American democracy.
It is possible to achieve good and useful things with people you disagree with. Here is a real world example.
Photo credit: Unknown.
Between 1973 and 1975, in Mendocino County,...
Now that we know Russian leaders have been trying to divide us, let’s fight back. Let’s find ways to unite.
We voters need information about the problems facing us, how politicians and bureaucrats propose to solve those problems, and what they actually do. That’s why our Constitution includes our right to a free press. In today’s USA, our press may be free, but state and local news is becoming harder to find. We now have a serious problem with “news deserts” where people have few if any options to learn what’s going on in their area. New FCC and proposed decisions are not helping.
Hate-bait is meant to divide us. It appeals to our emotion and prejudices. It over-rides practical thinking as well as our nobler aspirations. Hate-Bait distracts us from the fundamental...
One of the most fundamental aspects of a democracy is that citizens vote for their leaders rather than politicians selecting their voters through partisan redistricting (gerrymandering). On October 3, 2017, the US Supreme Court heard a case that could end this practice forever. It is hard to know how the justices will rule on this issue but one thing is certain: anything that leads to more political competition will be welcome. As noted in our August 14, 2017 blog, too many states, and too many districts within those states are currently noncompetitive. More than a few districts don’t even provide voters with a choice: no-one wants to waste time and money running as an opposition candidate, knowing they are doomed to lose. Americans deserve better. Let’s hope the Supreme Court justices lend a hand.
At least some of our differences arise quite naturally from geography and demography – rural and urban situations are quite different. Cynical politicians and media use those differences to divide us. We don’t have to fall for it. We should vote for leaders who will honestly address our different needs.
Democracy truly is under attack. Cyber techniques are the latest weapons. They are aimed directly at us, seeking to stimulate emotion over thought, sowing doubt and distrust. More computerization is not the answer.
The formation of the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity raises an interesting question. If there were cheating in the US presidential election, or any election, what would it look like? It is easy to visualize – if you can get the right data – but can be complicated to interpret.
There has been a lot talk about the urban/rural split in American politics, as well as growing political polarization. All true. But there’s a deeper point to be made. Our democracy is undermined when people are segregated into different camps with only limited opportunities for political competition and collaboration. We need to make a change. Fortunately, we have choices. There are viable options – if we are willing to put the work in.
The educational foundations of our civic house rest on shaky ground. U.S., investments at the federal level in education for democratic citizenship—including in support for civics, government, and American history courses—have declined significantly.