CSD Newsletter – August 3, 2012

Hello readers, welcome to the Campaign for Stronger Democracy’s latest newsletter!

Presidential campaigns tend to activate our democratic impulses like nothing else. Everyone has an opinion about the candidates, the campaigns, the issues, and the state of our politics. This year the excitement level is high, for different reasons. This promises to be the most costly presidential election ever, and is expected to surpass the mark for independent (and secret) expenditures in an election. Just as important, state-sponsored efforts at voter suppression are springing up by the handful this year, under the guise of election integrity. These are not signs of a healthy democracy, but the dialogue and fight for the franchise and against the out-sized influence of money in our politics are healthy responses.

However, there are a lot of good things happening, and you should be happening, too (and if you are reading this, you probably are). Election day is late in the process for people to get involved. It is time to connect your passion to the fundamental challenges of a healthy democratic society.

We’ve just scheduled our next Democracy Exchange for September 11, and it will be a great call, featuring Rob “Biko” Baker of the League of Young Voters and Amber Goodwin of Mobilize.org discussing their outreach and engagement work with young people. It only takes a minute to RSVP, can you join us?

Below, check out some of the highlights from the democracy field this month, including our friend Tova Wang’s new book on voter suppression, Communications Workers of America’s efforts at fixing our democracy, the Asian American Justice Center’s Advancing Justice Conference in Chicago, and our founder Carolyn Lukensmeyer’s take on reforming our democracy by retracing its evolution


Posts to Read and Discuss on our Blog

  • September Democracy Exchange: Sign up for our September Democracy Exchange, which will feature Rob “Biko” Baker of the League of Young Voters, and Amber Goodwin of Mobilize.org. Biko and Amber will be discussing the projects and outreach they will be carrying out with young folks leading up to the election in November. Sign up now, it only takes a minute!
  • The post office as a democratic institution: The US Postal Service has been facing hard economic times lately, in no small part due to congressional requirements to change the way it pays its employee health care. What would happen if post offices were to close? Particularly in small towns, post offices are an important community gathering place. We look at the consequences of shuttering brick and mortar post offices, and also explore new services USPS can consider offering.
  • Democracy Exchange with Meira Levinson: Check out our July Democracy Exchange, a conversation with Meira Levinson, author of the book No Citizen Left Behind. On the call, we discuss the importance of being able to practice citizenship starting at a young age, the ways schools can get involved with civic education, and the importance of changing the narrative of “escape” for young youth of color.

Five Things You Must Read

  • Million Dollar Megaphones: Super PACs and Unlimited Outside Spending in the 2012 Elections (Demos and US PIRG): Our friends at Demos and US PIRG just released a new report documenting the rise of super PAC and independent group spending in the presidential election. The report finds that much of the outside spending is not disclosed, and that super PACs continue to be tools used by a few wealthy individuals to influence the political process. Thus far, over half the money spent on TV ads was not disclosed. Read the full report for more information.
  • Cohen Calls for Defense of Democracy (Communications Workers of America): Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, called for a mass political movement to restore democracy. In a panel discussion at the Center for National Policy, Cohen said that “obscene attacks on democracy” included money in politics, Senate rules, and voter suppression laws. Watch a recording of the discussion at the CWA website.
  • New Civil Discourse Director Seeks “Jeffersonian Democracy” (Arizona Public Media): Carolyn Lukensmeyer, former President of AmericaSpeaks and one of the founders behind the Campaign, spoke to Arizona Public Media about her new role with the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and the Institute’s plan to engage officeholders, the media, and the public to create a more civil, “Jeffersonian democracy.”
  • Study Links ‘Racial Resentment’ and Voter ID Support (Colorlines): Colorlines has a round-up of voter ID news, and features two reports – one from the University of Delaware that shows the connection between support for voter ID and racial resentment; while the other report from the Brennan Center for Justice highlights the difficulty some citizens have in getting proper identification needed to vote.

Upcoming Events



Civic Education

Democracy 2.0

Electoral Reform and Voting Rights

Government Reform and Civility

Judicial Reform

Lobbying, Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform

Media Reform and Internet Access

National, Community and Public Service

Participation, Collaboration, and Civic Engagement

Racial Justice, Civil Rights and Immigrant Civic Inclusion

State and Local Democracy

Transparency and Openness

Youth Empowerment

Please pass this on to your colleagues and encourage them to sign up for our regular newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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