Positive! Honest! Inspiring! and most of all motivation action steps to take today! Just finished reading Daring Democracy and loved the passion mixed with current events to show how America can and is still a land of potential where citizens use courage and unity (not division) to work together to reach our common goals amongst Republicans and Democrats alike: equal distribution of wealth, election finance reform, limiting greenhouse gas emissions and universal background check for gun purchasers. ~ my amazon review under Jackster
So, I am going to interview Frances Moore Lappe in February about her new inspiring book Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want and I wanted to write about some of my most inspiring take aways! I think the most important call to action they make in this book is “offering endless opportunities for realizing common ground and shedding imagined differences as we engage shoulder to shoulder to bring about the America we want.” pg 9.
Isn’t that interesting my Christmas card this year had a poem on the back that said
Shoulder to shoulder
hand to hand
we’ll help you through
however we can…
We are NOT victims
They start out the book eliminating the blame game and taking full responsibility for our current state of affairs. They explain that “democracy is essential to protect us from the worst in our nature and to realize the best.”
“Democracy depends on active creation and protection of these three conditions – dispersion of power, transparency, and a cultural norm of accepting mutual accountability among citizens.”
I think this is why I want John Lee Dumas to run for president in 2020. He was an officer in the army and served combat duty in Iraq for several years. He believes in complete transparency (just check out their income report one month) and a world of abundance. He is honest and humble and has changed the world. I believe he deserves and will get a Noble Peace Prize in economics some day for leveling the playing field of higher education with his free valuable content he has given over the years.
Anyway back to the book.
Cooperation is like Chocolate!
“Democracy requires … our species to share a deep sensitivity to fairness … and a … capacity for empathy and cooperation.” page ten.
Then she talks about how humans are wired for cooperation! And quotes a study of MRI brain scans that showed when people work as a team:
“Cooperating, they found, lights up the brain’s reward – processing systems in ways comparable to eating chocolate!”
Here’s some history they include that I hear about from Mike almost daily is that our federal government created fairness rules from 1933-1938 to get us out of the great depression including “Social Security, the right of workers to organize and a legal minimum wage” Things that dramatically narrowed the gap between most of us and a tiny minority at the top. For decades this approach fostered broad based economic prosperity raising median family income from 1947-1973! pgs 10-11.
She concludes that what we need most is confidence that it is possible! And I believe that the reason Obama won on a policy of Yes, We Can! is because deep down Americans have that hope! But they also outline in the book a series of actions that may have seemed impossible at the start but were indeed turned into reality.
Chapter Two talks about how frames can shape behavior and difference between the Canadian frame on immigration as an opportunity verses America’s frame of mind that immigration poses a threat. Did you know that in Canada there’s a waiting list to sponsor Syrian refugees? (and don’t forget they are refugees fleeing climate change that has lead to civil war over food and famine – something Mike points out to me regularly as well) I always think Steve Job’s real dad was a Syrian refugee I’m glad got to come to the U.S.
Quoting Barney Frank, “government is simply what “we decide to do together.” pg 17
Some things we decided to do together is put public support behind things like GPS, radar, microwave, the computer and internet. The Clean Air Act passed in 1970 has helped our economy grow 3-fold while cutting levels of 6 major air pollutants by more then 70%. By 2020, the annual benefit of Clean Air Act protections will come to $2 trillion! Simple federal safety measures like air bags and seat belt requirements ave more lives each year then are taken in homicides! pg 18
They propose a democracy that is is free of fear and want and supports longevity and happiness! pg 19 A prosperous economy that flows from investing in the people. p21
Crapitalism or Capitalism?
My mom and Mike and I have held the capitalism debate for many years now.
There are plenty of markets that can operate well when the business is owned by the public, workers, consumers, and communities not just capitalists. pg 31
In Montana our local utility coops provide low cost electricity and high speed phone and internet at very affordable prices. People frequently ask me about our internet living in such a rural area but I am happy to say we have some of the best internet access in the state as well as the nation and Mike and I benefit from a capital credit check every year!
Climate Change Potentially Harmful to Small Businesses
On pages 33-34 they refer to a poll that “found almost 2/3 of owners of small businesses agreeing that government regulation is needed to limit power-plant carbon emissions.” And that “87% identified at least one climate change consequence as being “potentially harmful to their businesses.”
Starting in the 1980s “FCC Commissioners started to take away the commissions’ role in protecting the public good.” The Fairness Doctrine was abolished which used to require TV and radio stations to provide equal airtime for opposing sides and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 eliminated the cap on the number of radio stations one company could own. Today, most of what Americans watch and see is controlled by just a handful of companies – all preoccupied with their shareholders wealth, not our society’s wealth.
I’d feel remiss if I didn’t give a plug for Democracy Now! here our favorite news with Amy Goodman or for HBO’s the NEWSROOM that kind of hits on these issues in a drama sort of way. (FYI – neither Mike or my mom like the Newsroom)
Will hit’s the nail on the head about how we didn’t use to be so scared in this opening scene!
As McKenzie one of the stars of the NEWSROOM consistently reminds her bosses American’s want the truth as they constantly fight to stay on the air despite plummeting numbers and any number of crisises! In Daring Democracy they agree “Democracy lies only with truth-telling and honest negotiation.”pg 53
The Case For Regulations and Protections
In 1993, a sleepy trucker hit and killed four teenagers in Maine. The people of Maine had had enough. They decided that the clean-elections was the only solution. “Environmental, labor and religious groups all banded together to create a bill… with the goal of “freeing candidates from having to beg for contributions from wealthy donors.” pg 81
“Clean elections made possible public health and environmental protections many believe wouldn’t have stood a chance if big money had still dominated elections.” pg 82 The Kids Safe Products Act led to the ban of the harmful additive BPA from products sold in the state. (Shouldn’t that be the case for all of us. I’m pretty sure it’s true in Canada!)
Many link clean elections to Maine’s becoming the 2nd state to pass the 2004 electronics “takeback” law that holds manufacturers responsible for the full life cycle of their products. It’s kept lead and other pollutants out of Maine’s gorgeous landscape.” pg 82
Here are some other big impacts of Clean Elections.
- Candidates are more motivated to meet with their constituents.
- Diversity increases among those running for and being elected to office.
- More citizens feel like players on the field of politics and donor diversity increases.
- More campaigns are powered by small-money contributors, not big donors
- The number of people running for office increases
- Public financing decreases the advantages of incumbents.
There’s so much more to this book but I need to conclude.
I love these ideas at the back starting on page 153:
- Celebrate democracy! Invite local musicians to a public park or library event room to share and teach songs related to freedom and democracy!
- Become a hub for multiplying power and building community.
- Together get voices of citizens heard! Submit letters to the editor and op-eds to news outlets. By networking and conference calls letters to the editor rose from 36 in 2010 to more then 3000! in 2015! And op-eds rose from 29-547!
- Become a citizen lobbyist, both by phone and in personal visits. (It’s so much easier then you think!)
- Organize highly visible citizen deliberations to choose the best longterm strategies, priorities and immediate actions? Host democracy for dinner evenings!
- Create new public spaces for community talk, “People’s Corners”
- Make a personal shared pledge to act. The first step is the hardest!
- Turn your democracy group into a campaign team! Get behind a candidate that supports your values!
They end the book with a call to action! To be brave when fighting evil requires Courage! One must be courageous! Because “Goodness without action isn’t good enough!” pg 163
I encourage you to get your own copy of this inspiring book Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want and take action today!
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