Saturday, June 11, 2011

A survey of American democracy

From San Francisco Chronicle  |  Nothing to fear but democracy itself  |  by John Diaz  |  August 3, 2008
Democracy and change can be scary. But they are scariest to those in power who derive their power from suppressing change by any means necessary.

From New America Foundation  |  Internet wasn't real hero of Egypt  |  by Rebecca MacKinnon  |  February 14, 2011
Wael Ghonim, the Google executive whose anonymous online activism helped bring people into the streets for those fateful protests on January 25, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "the revolution started on Facebook," and "if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet."

Ghonim is modest. He rejects the label of "hero" and prefers to deflect credit to others. But let's be clear: He and hundreds of thousands of other Egyptians are the heroes, whether they were inspired to join the protests in Tahrir Square in the new way through Twitter or the old-fashioned way thorough their neighbors and co-workers.

From The Heritage Foundation  |  How the Internet is Strengthening Democracy  |  by Israel Ortega  |  May 10, 2010
Of course, members of Congress and politicians will continue enacting public policies, whether they hear from us or not. Consequently, it is up to us to seize the endless possibilities of the Internet and technology to influence public policy.

If we are to ensure that future generations can reap the benefits of prosperity and technology, we cannot afford to stand on the sidelines as history is being made.

From Democracy  |  Democracy  |  by Michael Waldman  |  Issue #11, Winter 2009
The key is to press for bold reforms that tap the participatory spirit of the age. Far too often, democracy reforms bog down in technical arcana, tangled in acronyms and technical fixes. Nobody ever marched for sound election administration; they have marched for democracy, and can do so again. Reforms cannot be expected to purify politics, to “clean up Congress” or impose rational order on a necessarily messy political system. Rather, all the reforms should point in the same direction: more participation, especially designed to boost the voices of those who are too often drowned out. ...

Barack Obama enters office burdened with rare high expectations, at a time when the economy is reeling, and there is little money for immediate spending on other priorities. He could push for reforms that would institutionalize the surge of voters and small contributors that brought him to the White House. If he does, he will change the country, and usher in a new era of democratic aspiration and energy. Once again, as so often in the country’s past, democracy itself will be at the center of our politics, where it belongs.