Communities embrace way to strengthen democracy

Published: 11/22/2016 10:43:25 AM

The recent election’s divisive tone left many disgusted, worn-out and lacking in enthusiasm toward politics. This could not be more dangerous, as support is needed to promote community rights, revisit Citizens United, and work together to address the many challenges ahead.

At the headwaters is the need for election reform. Corruption was identified as the number one issue that American adults feared, with 75 percent believing their political parties are corrupt, according to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek.

So how can we get unlimited, special-interest money out of politics? On Nov. 8t, a majority of Americans cast a vote for a candidate who promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who “will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.”

This is a step in the right direction, but it will have to come before the Supreme Court, and only then can justices begin to unwind the host of decisions, of which Citizens United is only one. Decisions dating back to the 1800s have torn at the fabric of our democracy when corporate influence began to usurp the rights of we the people.

Originally, every corporation had a public purpose stated in its charter and was accountable to the government. Since then, multinational corporations have become stateless, with their sole focus being shareholders rather than the interests of any people or place. To remedy this, citizens must demand that corporations be restructured as national public-purpose legal entities prohibited from engaging in electoral politics.

The resulting outcome would be accountability and an economy in which communities are free to cooperate for the common good rather than forced to compete for corporate favor.

Secondly, to break through our polarized political atmosphere we need to connect with people we don’t always agree with. Social media is a wonder, but it mostly serves as an echo chamber to reinforce existing views. It’s not a substitute for talking to people, asking questions, and learning why people support certain policies. Instead we need to get out of our individual comfort zones and find ways to meet others face-to-face to engage in authentic and respectful conversations. It is time to step up to protect our real democracy from those who profit from division, picking our battles with persistence and determination.

On Nov. 29 at 6 p.m., Monadnock area residents will gather at the Peterborough Community Theater, 6 School St. in Peterborough, to view “We The People 2.0,” a new film that sheds light on innovative strategies communities are embracing to strengthen democracy. This event is co-sponsored by New Hampshire Community Rights Network and MONIFF. Follow-up activities will be discussed and determined by those in attendance.

John Friede lives in Peterborough.


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