Sunday, January 1, 2012

Where Democracy Lives

If 2011 will go down in history as a terrible year economically, it will also be known as a turning point year for participatory and representative democracy in many countries throughout the world. True people power, spurred on by technology, second-to-second communications, and defiance of imposing police/military power proved more resilient than even the craftiest dictators. The movements that succeeded in overthrowing one-party, one person or one-ideology governments were not always smooth, and in many cases there is far more work to be done in order for the revolutions to hold onto their gains, but the people who have changed governments are now living in an altered world.

Consider the promise of democracy (the United States still needs to work on some of these):

  • Where democracy lives, citizens do not fear the state.
  • Where democracy lives, the press is freer, but must be more subservient to the truth than ever before.
  • Where democracy lives, the military belongs to the people.
  • Where democracy lives, women, ethnic and religious minorities, and people of all sexual orientations have full civil rights.
  • Where democracy lives, economic and educational opportunities are available to all levels of society.
  • Where democracy lives, the political process is messier, more susceptible to special interests and harder to corral, but power rests with the people.
  • Where democracy lives, justice systems must restore or establish the rule of law, not the rule of the open palm.

As for the countries that are under the most serious political pressure from their citizens,

Democracy now lives in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya
It's knocking on the door in Syria.
It's at a turning point in Russia, Hungary, Iraq and Ukraine

This will not be easy, and it's not clear if the citizens of these countries will eventually taste the fruits of new-found freedom, or if the benefits of democracy will touch their lives. But they are well on their way towards a more productive, politically freer future than they were 12 months ago. The United States has a responsibility to help nurture these democratic movements, even if we aren't supportive of the groups that are elected under their new political realities.

My hope is that over the next 12 months, more people in the United States and the world over will become involved in their country's political process from every band of the political spectrum. It's essential that we have vibrant debate and a full airing of the issues that face us if we are to progress and solve our problems.

So in addition to losing weight, resolve to do one thing that will make the country and the world a better place for all of us. Register to vote. Join an organization. Contact your representative and establish a working relationship with them on an issue. Start a social media site to highlight a concern you have. Be part of the solution.

And join me daily on

Happy New Year!

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