How can we engage more people in the democratic process?

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Update 2:

I was tremendously impressed by the thoughtfulness of the responses to my question. There is, of course, no single best way to engage more people in the democratic process. I believe we all need to do more work on encouraging more people to participate in the process and make sure every community is included in the discussion. There were hundreds of worthy and thought-provoking responses. In fact, some were so intriguing that I arranged to speak personally with their creators. To hear my conversation with one user, who wrote about the parallels between family and democracy, click below.

17,441 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    As a parent of 2 teenage daughters, I hear the frustration they share with "rigged class elections, popularity vs. content, etc." within their own peer elections. I worry that our youth is missing the truth and honor of "personal integrity" and need to learn democratic integrity first from their parents and then from public role models such as teachers, community leaders and elected officials.

    The democratic process should begin in the home with active parenting; not passive or dictactorship styles. Active parenting provides a forum to share and to hear ideas, solutions, praise, criticism, etc. as well as an understanding that one's ideas should always be heard, considered and respected, but not necessarily always taken. This foundation then naturally expands into school where teachers may mirror this type of democratic atmoshere. Additionally, I feel more demonstrative practice is needed within the school system in order for our youth to understand the democratic process on a personalized local level. Washington is far away; OUR community is right in front of us.

    One solution may be to link community leaders with schools and to openly invite ideas, internship-for-a-day programs or other activities that marry "the process" with a reality that children understand. If the democratic process is understood and actively demonstrated locally then a national understanding is more easily comprehended.

    Of course all ages need to be engaged with this process. If we educate and engage at a younger age, it is a natural concequence that the democratic process will continue well into young adulthood and beyond. The age of 18 gives our youth the right to vote and to be a legal adult; if their upbringing engaged the democratic process, then our Leaders-of-Tomorrow will continue and expand the democratic process.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think you have to approach it from three perspectives; college education and its availability and affordability, retirement and what the future holds for them and how bad it could be as opposed to now and the way it is for their parents living on fixed incomes or about to live on fixed incomes, thirdly-the environment.

    While these things are not directly related all three hold huge social and financial impact for the younger adults of this country that will affect them for many years to come after they are well past their mid 30s and 40s an into their retirment years even. By becoming involved and helping and taking a hand now with the decisions and policies that will be made they are helping to set the course for THEIR future.

  • 1 decade ago

    The two party system is failing us. I am a Republican. I have friends who are Democrats. This is an instant divide between us. The two party system is only creating a political Civil War. Many people do not have the stomach to push through this divide to get to the relevant points. Therefore, they simply give up and leave it to the rest of us that think we are right.

    For one thing, Americans as a whole are generally not involved in world politics. Many could not point out the location of Iraq on a map. The security we feel has led us to complacency. This has taught many people to lead introverted lives focused on their own, or families, well-being. This focus leaves little room for government red-tape, name calling, partisaned issues, politically controlled media, endless debates and filibusters, two-faced agreements and pacts, watered down messages that attempt to offend no one, etc, etc...

    A true grass roots politician with stated (on the record) beliefs and standards that provides real solutions to answers is good place to start. This politician when asked a question should give clear, concise answers and not vague, incoherent ramblings. I want to see action and leadership. President Bush may or may not be making wrong decisions, but he is making them and standing by them. I have rarely seen him back-peddle. That is what I want to see. I believe if Americans began to respect the office of the Presidency like the days of old you would see a dramatic change in political interests.

    Stop the politics and be the leader. The President is not a figure-head. The President is the pinnacle of the American way of life. This President needs to have a solution for the problems of the government. Speed up the processes. Remove the corporate lobbyists. Bring back trust and faith in the American goverment. The people will follow.

  • 1 decade ago

    The plain and simple solution is to make the citizens of the United States feel like their contribution means something on Capitol Hill. There is so much influence by the large campaign contributor's and the corporations that can afford full time lobbyists that the average man feels powerless in the government process.

    Both the Republican and Democratic Candidates of the past four Presidential Elections have sold out to the money. The costs of running for office assures that no one but the rich or well connected can make it into office.

    It is time to elect someone fresh, someone who has no ties to big business or special interests. But the only way that the average man is going to swing in that direction and vote for the unknown candidate is for the rhetoric of the Politicians become so stale that they stop believing anything they see in a Political advertisement and vote with their hearts and souls.

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  • 1 decade ago

    First and foremost, admit that democracy is not for everyone. Democracy is the most difficult of government models to implement. But at the most fundamental level, democracy will not work, in any form, if the grassroots people do not want it badly enough. And that desire for democracy cannot and will not be forced on people from outside their own ethnicity.

    Second, let those nations wherein the grassroots people have shown a clear desire for democracy come to us for aid. We, the U.S., should not go to them and covertly or overtly preach democracy unless they ask us to.

    Third, recognize the U.S. form of democracy may not be the best form for others. Other models (e.g., parliamentary, constitutional monarchy) may be best suited for other nations and their people.

    Source(s): Vietnam vet, where the U.S. tried to force democracy on a nation that still had tribal forms of government.
  • 1 decade ago

    Put the power back in the hands of the people. Of the people for the people was not just some passing thought. "we the people" don't have much of a say so in anything anymore.

    Also the media should be unbiased and report facts. If the media was unbiased people would get facts that could be used to make decision (not the media spinning what they want and deciding for us). now we get so much crap that by voting time I could care less about the candidates none are worth a dime.

  • Jim
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Talk about the two tailed dragon! First and foremost we need a political system that doesn't thrive on "President Bashing". I'm not speaking specifically of the attacks on President Bush, as I was also repulsed by the attacks on President Clinton (Bill not Hillary), when he was in office. The President of The United States has to be the most difficult and scrutinized job in the world and no one regardless of party affiliation is going to make all the people happy all the time. Every Democrat, including yourself, have said what an unnecessary war this is and it was a great mistake and personalized it to a Bush agenda. If this is the case answer a few basic questions: 1.) Yes, we all know that we did not find WMDs in Iraq, but what happened to them? We know Saddam had them, we know he used them on his own people, and we haven't seen definitive documentation of what happened to that arsenal that he didn't use to kill Iraqis...does this mean that they don't exist or just that we haven't found them? 2.) How many UN Resolutions and for how long was the civilized nations of the world supposed to "talk" before we considered the butcher of Bagdad a National Security Threat that would support terorist acts against other nations? 3.) Are the people of Iraq better off today under a democratic system than they were under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein? With this in mind, unless information comes to light that we haven't seen yet, I feel that the President made a decision based on the available intelligence and we as a nation need to support our President. If you've got a better solution, make it a solution to win the war and not just pull out of the area and let the most barbaric survivor take over. On domestic issues, make each piece of legislation be specific and limited in scope. For way too many years special interest groups have had pork belly legislation tacked onto vital legislation. Put this under control with line item vetos of these fiscally irresponsible practices. I could go on for hours, but A.) I'm not that great of a typist and B.) I know you've got more replies to read. My question for you is why would anyone want to run for president. It became a big issue that you had unpaid parking tickets from your college years. Not exactly an earth shaking event in my book, but it seemed to be important to our petty media. We need to let our elected officials do their jobs without constant harrassment and special investigations and oversight committees etc.. If you are elected and do a good job great, you'll probably get re-elected. If you do a poor job, hopefully you wouldn't be re-elected. We need to be able to vote for the person we think will do a good job and not against the person we think would do a poor one.

  • 1 decade ago

    Simple: Shift more influence on their daily (political) lives closer to home where their vote means more and , as a group, they see more impact by people who think along their lines.

    The more people see that they can influence more the more they are likely to invest the time and interest in the democratic process. Decentralization and localization seems to be the most influential way.

    Another process, like you see in Arizona and some other states, is to allow referendums or voter-initiated legislation even when you don't agree with the content. The problem with that is, of course, many voters do not have a sufficient grasp on the realities of the situation to craft a functional, practical legislation without serious consequences.

    Yet, in the end, I think the biggest barrier to democratic process is selfishness on the part of the politician, potential politician, and voter and the fact that many hit a dilemma when what they want for themselves doesn't happen to be what the majority wants from themselves...

  • 1 decade ago

    This has been stated more than once, but I feel it is highly relevant. I don't want to know why you think you are better than another. I can read and research myself. Tell me what you are GOING to do about major issues, let the others tell me what they are going to do, and let the public decide what they feel is best. Candidates and the voters must also realize that you are not going to be able to please everyone. Someone is going to lose the race, therefore the minority is going to feel negatively affected from the start. Hopefully the changes that come with a new leader will show promise for all.

    I don't agree with the Electoral College either, as I feel it hinders the democratic process. There's no Electoral College to elect our mayors or city councils. It's totally voter count. If we can elect representatives as leaders of our localities, why do we have to worry about something else (the Electoral College) carrying weight on something of higher importance (the President)? It doesn't seem right to me, and maybe I'm in the minority here. And that's fine. But I personally feel that if my vote is less important than a group who's ultimately going to make the decision for me, why should I bother? Yes I go out and make the attempt, but I don't feel a particular sense of "worth" or my "vote counting" like I do when I vote on local issues.

  • Fin
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Have the IRS offer a voter's deduction. Anyone that pays taxes would be eligible for a deduction on their taxes if they vote. Most people would not be willing to let money slip out of their fingers if it is defined clearly. I would guess that most of those people would not just vote for the sake of getting the dedcuction either. I think most would then take the time to look up the candidates to at least get an idea of who they want to vote for.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Easy, campaign finance reform, counting all the votes (getting rid of the electoral college). Making voting records accessible through online news agencies like Yahoo! etc. (If there is a story about legislation, allow the reader to click to see how their representative, and all the representatives voted). Before an election submit voting records to all major newspapers. Let the public know via large websites who prints these voting records and who doesn't.

    Enforce monopolie laws in regards to media conglomerations. Give PBS funding which isn't reliant on congress and the current administration.

    To be specific repeal the Military commissions act (and while you're at it the Patriot act). Because fascism and democracy can't co-exist.

    For the future: Cut defense spending and take care of the f'ing citizens, so, in short basically let capitalism work for all Americans. That may mean tackling health care and education, so we have a healthy informed public who understand the difference between democracy and capitalism, because right now they do not.

    Do you?

    Voting in this country doesn't happen every two years, it happens everyday, with every dollar you spend. Once people realize this and understand it the better off we'll be. So to re-cap, turn this back into a democracy, then we will participate. Maybe getting control of the federal reserve is another way not to be beholden to private banks for the production of money and the direction of the economy.

    I hope you weren't looking for an answer like "break down barriers" and "start a dialogue" or some such hackery.

    Source(s): Federal Reserve from documentary "From Freedom to Fascism"
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