Speaking Up for Democracy

“You can’t be silent on this. This is too important. Our democracy is very fragile, and we are right on the brink of losing it. Democracies don’t have a longevity history. But we have a chance to save this one now. And that means we have to speak out and we have to be active.” –former Governor Christine Todd Whitman at a forum last week.

Whitman was one of the speakers at a Democracy Forum sponsored by the Divided Communities Project at Ohio State University. She and other speakers discussed the threats to our nation’s democracy, including those reflected in the insurrection of January 6, 2021, along with the voter suppression, election deniers and rise of extremist groups that have followed.

Whitman is the Founder and Co-Chair of States United Democracy Center, whose mission is “to connect state and local officials, public safety leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy.” Whitman sees particular value in local officials speaking in support of election integrity and democratic principles, saying at the Forum that, because they are nonpartisan, people respect local officials’ viewpoint on these matters.

While much of the talk about saving democracy concerns national politics, local communities are also experiencing threats to democratic practices and incivility. The attacks on school districts for mask mandates and curriculum on racial equity is an example. Local officials are also seeing an increase in personal threats, with over 4 out of 5 local officials experiencing physical threats, according to a survey by the National League of Cities.

Learn more by viewing this Brookings Institution webinar about the various threats to American democracy and policy options to strengthen our democratic systems. States United Democracy Center also has resources on election protection, accountability, truth in elections, and preventing political violence.

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