We Need a Department of Democracy

This post first appeared at Imagine Democracy.

This post expands on 2019’s , a “Department of Democracy,” to protect and promote democracy.

Democracy doesn’t have an advertising agency, and our discourse is swamped by well-funded anti-democracy efforts — done by self-interested parties like the tobacco and fossil-fuel companies. For obvious reasons such interests want to get government and its rules that protect the public from harms (a.k.a. regulations) “off their backs.”

Our elections have become a game in which secretly-funded disinformation, spread by secretly-funded propaganda outlets, in rigged districts, with voter suppression and apathy deciding who rules. Those minority-selected elected officials perpetuate these barriers in a “doom loop” that is ending democracy.

If what’s left of self-rule survives we need a government agency to take on the role of protecting and promoting democracy. Perhaps we could call it a Department of Democracy.

Help People Register and Vote

This agency would help everyone get registered to vote, including doing any research necessary to establish citizenship including finding or providing alternatives to birth certificates, etc. It would be a public outreach effort to get this done, even going door to door, then providing certification (“voter ID”), helping fill out ballots and collecting them.

Counter Anti-Democracy Propaganda

Beyond just the registering and voting process, the agency would put out messaging to counter anti-democracy propaganda, including explaining to people how the propaganda undermines democracy. (Like “business is always more efficient than government” nonsense.) It would provide grants to researchers, authors, speakers etc who promote democracy – and others who in good faith criticize the agency’s efforts.

Fight Big Money’s Influence

Democracy is one-person-one-vote, not one-dollar-one-vote,

The Department of Democracy would propose and enforce legislation that prohibits concentrated wealth from influencing elections. (Like prohibiting funding “think tanks” that put out anti-democracy messaging.) Obviously corporate “contributions” to politics is bribery, because, as Milton Friedman explained, any use of corporate funds has to be for the purpose of advancing the corporation. So the agency would propose and enforce legislation to stop funds from “leaking” out of corporations.

Report to Congress

Each year the agency would issue a report to Congress on the State of Our Democracy. (The SOD Report?) It would conduct research and report on legislation Congress is considering, analyzing how bills might strengthen or weaken democracy.

Is It Too Late?

This is something a real democracy would do. But the current UNdemocratic state of our country’s governing “system” makes it almost impossible to imagine a way it could be put in place.