Pop Quiz: What is promised but not given, fought for but neglected, allusive but taken for granted?
Way #21: Democracy: Love It or Lose It
Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. It falls to each of us to be the guardians of our democracy, to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.
– Barack Obama, Farewell Address
For some, engaging in politics truly is a “joyous task,” and for others it can feel like participating in a broken system—perpetuating power structures that no longer serve the common good. Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, for today’s Way, commit to taking one new step in owning your role in the democratic process.
Specifically we're focused on voting—making sure you vote (especially in the midterm elections, if you are a U.S. citizen), and helping ensure that others vote (assuming you live in a country where you can vote). But why do it? That’s the real subtext of today’s Way.
Why Do This Way?
Although many of us take democracy for granted, the idea that government should reflect and respond to the will of the people is still a relatively recent and radical concept. Democracy is a bold experiment. And it doesn’t happen on its own.
In the last few hundred years, people around the world have marched, rallied, fought, and died for the right to vote, to have a say in their government. It didn’t come easily. Take advantage of the opportunity they gifted you to have a say in your government.
You may fear that your vote doesn’t actually matter. In fact, studies show public policy is written far more to enhance and strengthen the wealthy and powerful rather than reflect the preferences of voters. (For instance, 81% of registered voters in the U.S. favor regulating carbon dioxide.) And yet, genuine democracy cannot happen unless people (yes, you!) actually vote. Consider your vote as your stand that all voices should matter in government, and as a commitment that you will participate in strengthening democracy.
Engaging with This Way
To ensure that your (and everyone else’s vote) really matters, you have an opportunity to examine, and help change, the political system in which voting happens.
Check out the resources below for support and guidance around engaging with democracy in the United States. (Please feel free to share any comparable resources for other countries in the comments below!)
- Check to see if you're registered to vote
- Help register a millennial (aka: “Nag the Vote!”)
- Learn about the issues on your ballot this year
Want to go deeper? You can participate in the movements to remove the influence of money in politics, stop voter suppression, and rigging the voting districts (aka gerrymandering) to name just a few areas worth investigating.
There is no shortage of ways you can stand up for democracy.
How does democracy live for you?