Showing respect for the spirit of democracy in our lives.
One of the most important things you can do to defend, protect, and strengthen our Republic is entirely within your control: simply show respect for the spirit of democracy in the way you conduct your everyday life.
Representative democracy is built on the proposition that there is value in a competition of policy ideas. A few corollaries rest on this foundation:
- A competition of ideas will work best when anyone can participate, and when the debate is kept respectful. None of this means you cannot be fierce in presenting and defending your ideas – you need only do so in a respectful manner.
- You want to be heard and respected, so it won’t do to treat people who disagree as enemies. Everyone is a worthy American with at least a few potentially good ideas that might benefit you.
- You might be choking on the idea that everyone is a worthy American. How could they be when they are so wrong about so many things? Turn the question around: how could you be a worthy American – in their eyes – when you hold such obviously different opinions? Our Declaration of Independence holds that all people are created equal, that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. Believe that and live it.
- Keep in mind that there truly are people trying to divide Americans against Americans. Some are foreign government agents and trolls; others live right here at home. This reality is hard to remember if they have caught hold of our emotions. Fear is a powerful motivator, and lies about this group and that group travel faster than the truth. Better to remind yourself daily that we are all worthy Americans and encourage everyone around us to do the same.
- If you want to help someone win a campaign for
office,or a change in the law, it won’t do to stick with your trusted friends; you will need to reach out and try to bring new folks over to your way of seeing things. Campaigning can be difficult, especially when you come across someone who’s very identity is wrapped up in their political party. Try reminding them first that we all share a common future together as Americans, then find out where your interests and theirs overlap or can be bridged, and see if you can build on that.
- Help your elected officials make good choices. They have to divide their time between promoting their party, promoting themselves, fund-raising, and solving problems in cooperation with other politicians, including those from other parties. Help remind them that we voters put them in
officeto make America a better place and therefore they need to make problem-solving their top priority.
- If you want something to change, you must also hold officials accountable for results. Let your representatives know what you like and what you want to be changed. Spend time learning whether your representatives did what they promised and how they did it. Similarly, learn how well the federal, state, and local bureaucracies performed on their obligations. Be willing to vote some politicians out if they don’t perform well, even if they are from your town, state, or your preferred party.
CFFAD encourages you to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of our Republic and what you can do to protect and improve our democracy.
Photo credit: Marc Serota