Help protect and improve our representative democracy.
Representative democracy is precious. Consider what you know of countries where there is no democracy, or where democracy is mostly a sham. Here are some examples: places without any effective territorial government (much of Somalia from 1991 until recently); territories and countries ruled by war-lords or drug-lords; military dictatorships (Chile 1973-90); dictatorial family dynasties (North Korea); absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia); totalitarian dictatorships (USSR under Stalin); fascist dictatorships (Nazi Germany); petty dictators (Uganda under Idi Amin); theocracies (Iran 1979 onward); and one-party states (Cambodia, 1975-91).
In all of these examples, there is just one person or one small group of leaders who make most of the important political decisions. They monopolize decision making by using fear, one-sided laws, and overwhelming force. Political freedom is not an option or is severely restricted. Changing the people in power often requires the use of force against the old leaders and/or their supporters.
Democracies are, of course, far from perfect. Sometimes governments get deadlocked or are slow to respond to pressing problems. Some have had periods in which many people were, or still are, oppressed and/or excluded from participating. Sometimes they are overcome by populism. Sometimes the people set priorities that aren’t in their long-term interest. We can all think of some failing.
That said, representative democracies that include everyone and haven’t been compromised or weakened do offer a package you can’t get from any other system: a peaceful way to allow citizens to choose their leaders; a method for political parties to share power; a way for citizens to have a role in governing themselves; and lots of personal and political freedom.
Mainstream and social media have been full of stories and debate about whether the U.S.A. is still a representative democracy and whether democracy is still a viable idea. These questions are not complete hype and bunk: some frustrated politicians have been inflaming our differences and rigging the system where they can. As a consequence, the three major organizations that score the quality of democracy around the world have downgraded the U.S.A. between 2011 and 2018: Freedom House, the Economic Intelligence Unit, and the Center for Systemic Peace. That’s not good.
CFFAD encourages you to learn more about how the strengths and weaknesses of our system are changing, and many opportunities to help protect and improve it.
CFFAD is happy to work with your group or organization to design workshops, curricula, or other materials that will help remind people how precious democracy can be and help show the way towards a better Republic. Please contact us at team@CFFAD.org.