The Importing Democracy Blog
Over a decade ago, Fisher (2013) explored the role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan and Argentina. Despite continuing global autocratic trends since then, South Africa and Argentina have remained vibrant democracies with strong civil societies. Tajikistan, in contrast, remains autocratic, and civil society has apparently weakened in recent years. However, at the grassroots level a combination of traditional grassroots organizations and internet organizing provides a more complex picture of the relationships between local participation, ties with other civil society organizations, democratization and development. The purpose of this paper is to highlight both these relationships and the contrast between local democratization and national autocracy.
Robin D’Angelo’s book, White Fragility and a recent piece in the Washington Post by Robin Givhan both gave me a taste of why I had instinctively held back from telling Black friends and co-workers over the years that, as a young white woman I had picketed Woolworths at age 16, marched on Montgomery, gotten spit on when I went out with a Black lawyer, and instinctively spoken up and caused good trouble, as John Lewis would say when I heard racist remarks.
When I was a Program Officer at the Kettering Foundation, we hosted summer interns from universities and think tanks to contribute to our research on democracy. One summer, we had an intern from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in DC. I don’t recall his name, but I will never forget his comment, “Democrats are rhetorically challenged.” I paid attention, not only because he was writing his doctoral dissertation on political rhetoric, but also because his remark hit home.
Although the President refuses to set an example, it is now an official CDC recommendation to wear face masks, usually homemade, whenever leaving our homes. Most of us are improvising- in our case, construction masks given to us by a neighbor, with vacuum cleaner filters inside.
Last night David #Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, called the task of #registeringyoungvoters a “Manhattan Project” for the Democrats, despite overall increases in #turnout in the primaries. His comment really hit me between the eyes, since my father worked for Robert Oppenheimer on the original Manhattan Project, and nothing anyone has said has so dramatically illuminated the magnitude and specificity of the challenge.
#NextGenAmerica was founded by #TomSteyer in 2013, long before he ran for president.
More controversial is the #self-funding of political campaigns. Yes, it is probably “unfair.” But short of massive campaign finance reforms that might or might not work, we should probably accept it. Tom #Steyer was funding Next-Gen America to register 18-year-olds across the country months before he announced he was a candidate for President. And he has pledged to continue his efforts even if he is not the candidate. #Bloomberg supported groups combating gerrymandering, and, as with Steyer, has pledged to continue funding the presidential campaign against Trump no matter whether or not he is the Democratic candidate.
“Exporting” democracy, whether done militarily or peacefully, doesn’t work. Every locality and country has to develop its own political system, although wide local participation and democratization tend to go together. A narrow, authoritarian government is not a democracy, no matter how it is labeled by its rulers.
Democrats I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” – Will Rogers As a registered Democrat, I am deeply troubled by recent discussions in the media about so-called “progressives” vs. “moderates.” The worst aspect of this is that we seem to be focused on labels, not policies. The great strength of the Democratic Party today is that it is a “big tent.” The 2018 midterms showed that, depending on the district, different kinds of Democratic candidates can win. As a party, we celebrate diversity of all kinds. Why can’t we celebrate political diversity rather than mirroring the narrow negativism of