From my perspective, it has been a particularly tough month for democracy with the assault on Ukraine, and, closer to home with the failure by Ohio officials to complete the redistricting process. However, two items have helped me to find some room for hope amidst all of the negative news:
In my former home of San Francisco, three school board members were recalled. These were Democratic officials in a very progressive/Democratic city. I believe that the simple message sent by the voters in that election was that regardless of whether an elected official shares your ideology, if you don’t do your job you don’t deserve to hold office!
Last Thursday at a webinar hosted by ASQ’s Government Division, Dr. Steven Kull Director of the University of Maryland Program for Public Consultation shared the methodology and data surrounding the work they have done to identify widely supported common ground positions on many of the key issues facing our country. I hope many of you were able to attend this outstanding program. In addition to the energy and engagement of those that attended the webinar, I was particularly heartened by overwhelming data shared by Dr. Kull that reflects broad agreement between deep red and deep blue areas on a number of policy solutions. I was also heartened by data that supports the theme that voters value results over party or ideology. I will share much more information from last week’s webinar in next month’s newsletter.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit London. As was the case following my U.S. cross country road trip last summer, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on our Speak Up for Good Government efforts and on the challenges our democracy faces. Like any country, England has its own set of problems. After touring the Tower of London, I was particularly struck by the journey the United Kingdom has taken from the brutality of medieval times to their current parliamentary democracy. I was also struck by the fact that the city and the UK’s very existence were severely threatened by the bombing of World War II.
As I toured many of the beautiful parts of London, noting similarities to some of the cities I have visited in the U.S., I was struck by the fact that England came into existence long before the United States; and many of our systems, customs, etc. come from and have evolved from Great Britain. Although I’m far from an expert on this topic, my understanding is that the British system of government and the parliamentary democracies of many other European countries typically rely on opposing parties working together. If opposing parties can work together in other countries, so can ours!
England and many other European governments evolved from autocracies to democracies. Democracies can also devolve into autocracies. That’s what makes this work so important to me. We are very lucky to have our personal liberties and lucky that our form of government is designed to have elected officials accountable to voters. Preserving and enhancing our democracy requires all of us to “Speak Up for Good Government”!
One of my favorite movies is The American President. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) in the pivotal scene of the movie says “…America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad…” In the spirit of President Shepherd, please share this newsletter and consider getting involved!
Until next month,