The Freedom in the World 2022 report from Freedom House gives the U.S. a grade of 83. The U.S. has been in decline for the last 10 years.
This was a decline from the 2019 score of 86, mostly the result of the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capital by Trump supporters and continued threats and intimidation of politicians and election officials throughout the country.
In a national poll conducted in 2018 by Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center, 68 percent of Americans agree that America’s system of democracy these days as getting weaker.
Can We Keep Our Republic?
The famous warning by Ben Franklin seems appropriate today as it was in the beginning of our country. Just how do we keep this Republic strong? This is my take on what is needed now:
Educating the citizenry about principles and concepts of democracy;
Taking the time to understand the issues and apply critical thinking to avoid disinformation;
Voting and protecting that right for all U.S. citizens;
Standing up for what is right regardless of party policies or objectives.
In my lifetime, I have seen my rights and freedoms slowly eroded away without knowing what to do about it. I personally plan to take this organization to the next level to accomplish some of the thing listed above so we can keep our republic!
Somehow in recent time the concepts of public and private have become flipped. This was accelerated by Facebook and their confusing and changing privacy settings. Their business model is to get or trick people to entry data into Facebook’s marketing database that they sell/give to other companies or is used to target advertising to you. Also collecting so much information makes companies a target for hackers.
Private information that a person generates in the modern world should be under the control of the person who originates the data. We should also get to decide who can use our information, for how long and for how much payment. People should not be treated like sheep waiting to be fleeced!
Public information such as how taxes are collected and spent should be public. Dick Cheney (VP USA 2001-2009) refused to release internal office documents, citing his executive privilege to deny congressional information requests, hiding much of the information of what he did in a public office. Dick Cheney worked for the American people, but how can we know if he is doing a good job if he can hide what he does to/for us. This makes America more an autocracy than a democracy!
Today, many people consider the United States Constitution to be a scared document, like the Ten Commandments from God, worshiped but never to be changed. Even Thomas Jefferson knew that was not the right attitude about this document. Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison, from Paris September 6, 1789 wrote:
…the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor right over it…. On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation…. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19. years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.
And for those who say that our Constitution has provisions to be changed, Jefferson went on to say:
But the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be indeed if every form of government were so perfectly contrived that the will of the majority could always be obtained fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form. The people cannot assemble themselves; their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to ever legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils. Bribery corrupts them. Personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of the constituents; and other impediments arise so as to prove to every practical man that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.
Maybe it is time for creating a new constitution that deals with issues of our day instead of what was happening in the eighteen century. Things like privacy, more for citizens and less for governments. Or the Electoral College that did not protect us from a person that is unqualified, but with a talent for “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity”, attaining high office as concerned Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist No. 68. It could be a new form of government is possible, using modern communication networks to assemble, organize and interact in a more direct way that was impossible in the 1700s.
240 years ago, our founding fathers made a huge leap from governance by divine right to the governance by the citizens. In a time before the use of electricity, steam engines, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, airplanes, they invented a way for citizens to govern themselves by choosing their leaders. They created organizations that balanced power against power to prevent any one individual or group from taking control.
The power of governance in the United States is still in the hands of a relative few individuals that special interests have learned to manipulate. Corporations and collections of individuals with narrow interests have spent time and money learning to bend our representatives to their will. At the same time, vast numbers of citizens have become disillusioned with their elected representatives ability to solve pressing problems affecting all of us.
Less than 10% of the world’s population live in a full democracy. Now with the power of technology and the Internet, we have the ability to distribute power to individuals. We can come together and organize and reorganize to accomplish many things great and small. But making changes to our current democratic institutions should not be taken lightly. As we see around the world, even with the spread of democracy to more citizens, changes to key human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of the press and restrictions on government to effect an individual’s freedoms can have a huge impact on how democracy works for society.
Denver Center for Democracy is setup to provide a place to develop, discuss, test and tweak new ideas and concepts on how to apply new and some not so new technologies to help improve democracy. The results will be available for use by anyone to connect, communicate, debate, and decide on and implement solutions to problems great and small. Many people around the world are working on open source platforms and applications to improve on democracy and this organization will use and support those efforts as well as creating new ones.
After a lifetime of voting and becoming more involved in the democratic process, I became alarmed at the lack of input and real control that I had in the 21st Century U.S. democracy! After a few years of trying to have some impact, I realized the invention of the 18th Century and years of gaming the system, big business and big money had taken over and push me to the back of the room.
So I started Denver Center for Democracy to provide citizens (that have hearts and minds) with a platform to research, organize, discuss, and impact their local, national, and world governments.
The United States of America founding fathers could not imagine what has changed since they created a government that emphasized civic duty, virtue, and opposition to corruption, fancy luxuries and aristocracy. I wish I could talk to Thomas Jefferson to see what he would change in his master works.
So check back here to see what I am working on and become involved with your local, national, and world issues. By the way, this is not an April Fools joke! I hope you will become involved.