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Saturday, March 17, 2007


Suport the Democracy Protection ACT

Press Release
Author: Lauren Strayer

Contact: Lauren Strayer, 212-490-0001, lauren@newdemocracyproject.org


Mark Green, Miles Rapoport, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Michael Waldman to hold press conference today call to discuss plan to “expose and repair the quiet crisis of democracy.”

New York City – Four leading progressive institutions are today publishing “The Democracy Protection Act: 40 Ways Toward A More Perfect Union” and are holding a press conference call at 12 noon EST today, March 15, 2007. “America is threatened by a group of ‘new authoritarians’ – in the executive branch, congress, the clergy and corporations – who show enormous contempt for the value of democracy,” says the Introduction to the publication. “Our country needs its own pro-democracy movement ‘to form a more perfect union.’”

Mark Green of the New Democracy Project, Miles Rapoport of Demos, Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine, and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law jointly pledged to make democracy a major theme in their work over the next two years because "democracy transcends all other issues – indeed it is a prerequisite to nearly all other reforms."

Among the proposals advanced in the “Democracy Protection Act” are: enacting “democracy funding” in federal campaigns, creating national voting standards, making electronic voting secure, strengthening the Freedom of Information Act, making CEOs more accountable for excessive corporate compensation, and restricting presidential signing statements. (See below for an executive summary of the 40 proposals.)

In a "Declaration for Democracy," the heads of the four organizations expressed their premise and goal:

"America's two century advance toward a better democracy – with more voters, greater fidelity to the rule of law, and more transparency and accountability – is threatened by powerful people and interests who believe more in top-down rule than the ethic of debate and participation. Trampling on the values represented by the flag far more than the couple of fools a year who actually burn one, this trend poses a clear and present danger to our constitutional traditions.

"While palpable and visible crises such as Iraq, health care and income inequality assault us daily, there is a quiet crisis of democracy that is as urgent as it is ignored.

"We have too much money and too few voters in our electoral process. Too much corruption. Too high barriers blocking access to civil justice. Too much contempt for the Rule of Law.

"At a colloquium we organized last January in New York City, Bill Moyers said that what America needs most is 'a different story' than the prevailing conservative narrative of private=good, public=bad. That story is democracy.

"The ‘Democracy Protection Act,’ therefore, is designed to be a trumpet heralding that, in the words of Al Smith, the cure to the problem of democracy is more democracy. So we are dedicated to injecting the value of democracy and the Rx of a ‘Democracy Protection Act’ into the public conversation of '07-'08. That means a renewed dedication to expanding the franchise, accountability, transparency and the rule of law."

According to Miles Rapoport, president of Demos: “There's no single policy that will fix our democracy to meet the great opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century. But a broad and sustained effort to stop the growth of plutocracy, maintain our liberties, and find ways to bring more people into the process can, taken together, make a real difference. At Demos, we are dedicated to making our democracy as vibrant and inclusive as it possibly can be. The ideas here are a terrific addition to the public debate.”

According to Mark Green, who is also the new president of Air America Radio, “Public interest and progressive groups have long each worked separately on their particular issue – poverty, pollution, reckless wars, economic injustice – with the larger issue of democracy often ignored. But so long as powerful interests dominate our broken democracy, government can never solve these problems. Because of a new atmosphere for reform after the November mid-term elections, we believe that our ‘Democracy Protection Act’ can help make it a primary issue for candidates, constituencies, the media and advocacy groups. Here's a simple question to ask all candidates – are you for more democracy or against it? For a Democracy Protection Act or against it?”

According to Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, “Offering ideas to repair our precious – and imperiled – democracy is perfectly in keeping with the spirit that guides all four of the groups releasing this report. We don't exist just to curse the political darkness, but to craft solutions to make America ‘a more perfect union.’ We’ve been doing that at The Nation every single week for 142 years – and will make a special effort to restore our democracy over the next years as well.”

According to Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center: “This menu of proposals represents diverse views and approaches to the central challenge of restoring our government and its connection to the people. No one will agree with everything in here. But taken together, these proposals reflect the creative ferment among citizens who know something is wrong, and who have vivid ideas for how to make things right. We all recognize that if we don’t fix our systems, we won’t solve our problems. We have a chance to put democracy at the center of our politics where it belongs.”

To join the press conference call at 12 noon EST , today, Thursday, March 15:

Please call 1-877-915-2770.
When prompted, please enter code: 1134733.
Executive Summary of “The Democracy Protection Act”

A. A Democracy With Too Few Voters:

B. Democratizing Congress:

C. Rule of Law:

D. Secrecy and Democracy:

E. The Economics of Democracy:

Losing our Democracy - by Mark Green, President of Air America Radio

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