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What is real democracy? [partial list of criteria]
– A system where We the People have a legitimate opportunity to shape, implement and evaluate decisions affecting our lives.
– The voice of every person counts. All votes are equal.
– All people have adequate time and information to make decisions.
– Whether the issues are local, regional, national or global; political, social or economic, decisions made without our direct or indirect legitimate input are illegitimate.
– The more directly we’re involved in decisions which directly affect us, the more democracy or self-governance exists.

What is unreal democracy? [There’s much of this in our society.]
– Providing input that is not useful (input after the fact or ignored).
– Voting on useless things (i.e. online votes for winners of American Idol, best football quarterback, etc.).
– Small group meetings (such as focus groups) or surveys designed to find out what we like/dislike for the purpose of marketing a product or service.
– Questionnaires connected to fundraising (from political parties, interest groups, etc). Most of these are primarily concerned about raising money.
– Elections and the making of public laws where money and influence from a few (i.e. wealthy) drown out the voices and influence of the many.
– Regulatory hearings where the public is provided only token opportunities to offer input and where regulators lack the power to control corporate actions.
– Any process where business corporations possess constitutional “right” to influence outcomes

Greg Coleridge — gcoleridge@afsc.org

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