OVERVIEW

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.

We support and promote Liberal Democracy as the form of government that allows all citizens to live their best lives. Democracy must continually be renewed by each generation and defended vigorously when under attack.

Democracy is rule of, by, and for the people. Through the power to vote and the separation of powers, democracy provides citizens freedom, equal participation, and rule of law protections. Other forms of government concentrate power in individuals (autocracies) or organizations (theocracies, oligopolies). Democracy is in crisis across the world; our core purpose at the PSA is to help individuals become better all-around citizens and to work to strengthen democracy.

How bad is the crisis in democracy? https://youtu.be/PWt7naYTiik

Foundations, principles, and values

Democracy is messy and inefficient, but it is the form of government that brings the power of diverse thinking and values to economic and social problems and allows all citizens to live their best lives. Democracy is agile and flexible, producing growth, opportunity, and freedom. Autocracy is rigid – it produces conformity, stagnation, and fear.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence asserts that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Our collective story is the story of the advancement of civil rights for all, from the abolition of slavery to women’s suffrage, from the civil rights movement to the challenges of today: LBGTQ rights, control of our bodies, racial and economic justice, criminal justice reform, and voting rights.

Status: Issues & Challenges

Democracy is under threat around the world. The January 6th insurrection, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the invasion of the Brazilian statehouses are only a few of the most prominent examples of the decline of democracy and the resurgence of authoritarianism today. In the U.S., public support for democracy has declined significantly in the past two decades: 59% of Americans don’t trust the public’s political wisdom, up from 35% in 1997. Support for democracy has declined by 10% in the last 17 years, down to 63%.

External and internal enemies have flamed disruption, division, and partisanship in the U.S., leading our political parties to fight more for power rather than serve the people.

Support of democracy necessitates a deep personal commitment. As with individual growth and personal responsibility, whole cultures and societies must progress to the point where enough citizens are willing to stand up for the tenets of democracy. This explains why nation-building from the outside does not work, witness the failures of the Arab Spring and Afghanistan’s return to tribal rule.

Program Opportunities

The PSA community will educate, empower, and engage members and the public in core values of democracy, the constitution, and programs that develop public trust and effective citizen oversight.

Suggestions for action:

Take a course on the US Constitution.

Develop a course to help members write their own values and platform.

Start a group to advance equality.

Develop a policy workshop.

Run a workshop on effective citizen oversight.

Start a campaign to restore public trust in public institutions.

Run a workshop during elections to evaluate candidates and policy proposals.

Michael Freedman

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