Our American democracy is in jeopardy, and in fundamental ways, it’s already broken.We are experiencing our basic liberties being infringed in many right wing-controlled states. The sabotage of democracy prevents the enactment of policies that are popular with the American public but antithetical to the far right. It’s a grab for power in the face of an electorate that is trending to be younger, more female and less white.

In response, Elders Action Network has made protection of democracy one of its key action priorities. Our action group Elders for Sound Democracy (ESD) is using proven strategies to empower voters, counter voter suppression and public corruption, and promote basic civic values. The following summarizes ESD teams’ efforts, with links to detailed information and opportunities for you to join.

Sound Democracy and Its Freedoms

A sound democracy provides basic freedoms, or rights, for all Americans. These include, for example, all forms of public (e.g., gun) safety, minority rights, women and youth rights, and the basic right to vote. Eligible-to-vote citizens need to be informed about authoritarian actions attacking these freedoms. In response, informed citizens become more motivated to vote and to learn how to bypass regulatory roadblocks intended to suppress their voting turnout. Thus, monthly ESD media content is chosen and designed to provide essential information to systematically address democratic freedoms and threats to these rights on a deeper level. 

In order to increase informed voter turnout, we have two on-going, well defined projects: (a) the Environmental Voter Project identifies and encourages an estimated 15 million environmentalists who don’t tend to vote to do so; and (b) the Civics Center youth voter project encourages millions of high school students to register and vote. (To learn more about these projects and how to participate go to Freedoms, Threats & GOTV Campaigns.)

Civic Values and Culture (CVC)

America’s democracy has become extremely fragile. The root cause is a lack of clarity, consensus, and commitment to fundamental democratic values and principles.  Our CVC team works towards a future where education at all levels instills the key tenets of democracy and citizenship. The goal is that citizens engage in respectful public discourse to heal division, find common ground and promote collaboration. All eligible citizens must have an equal vote. Public officials must act with integrity and are held accountable. See CVC Values & Culture

The CVC team projects include (a) fostering civil conversation with those with whom one disagrees; (b) recognizing individuals or groups that have acted in exceptional ways to advance democracy; (c) presenting civic education workshops to expand elders’ capabilities in critical thinking skills for civic engagement; and (d) forming organizational partnerships that create synergism in strengthening American democracy. See CVC Projects.

Political Corruption

There is a staggering amount of corporate and dark money spent on influencing the legislation that is passed and supported at all government levels in America.  Many corporate-funded legislators are corrupted in their duties by this income rather than addressing critical social inequality and neglected environmental degradation. 

To address this problem, the Political Corruption Action Team partners with pro-democracy-oriented organizations that promote limits on corporate campaign donations, mandate public disclosure, and bolster publicly financed election campaigns. The team members take direct action by participating in causes routinely compromised by un-democratic money sources. (To learn more about these projects and how to participate go to Countering Political Corruption.)

EAN State Teams 

To foster growth in sound democracy at the grassroots level, ESD is facilitating the development of state teams and support for their regional activism. These state teams provide opportunities to participate in pro-democracy projects pertinent to the political situations at district, regional, and statewide levels. Special focus is provided at “swing” congressional districts where progressive values can be enhanced in determining voting outcomes. For synergism, state teams partner with other state organizations working for the same or similar interests.. 

Currently we are establishing state EAN teams beginning with Arizona. Others being considered are Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. (See EAN State Team Development.)

Promotion & Communications  

To encourage, inform, inspire and equip elders to act effectively in support of sound democracy needs, ESD develops and presents the following products.

  • Monthly on-line ESD Community meetings in which important governance topics are presented (e.g., authoritarianism, violation of womens’ rights), often with noted guest speakers, followed by practical countering actions we can take.
  • Eternal Vigilance, a monthly journal in which deep dive educational articles are presented concerning specific threats or issues regarding America’s democracy and individual and community rights and well being.

These media products are also used to promote ESD activism to the larger American pro-democracy audience. If you are interested in doing research, reporting, writing, editing, event planning, marketing or publication design activity, please contact carolvollen@me.com.

Online Community meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month for 90 minutes, beginning at 10:00 am PT / 1:00 pm ET. Register here to receive the Zoom link for the next meeting. 

National ESD Operations Support 

ESD’s national action group and staff members manage daily operations. Activities include communication support, project research support, project and event marketing, new elder engagement, partnership development, and fund raising to expand staff administrative support and state field operations. See if there’s a match for your skills and interest on one of these important teams! To learn more, contact dianas@eldersaction.org.

Sound Democracy Resources

Many written or video-recorded resources with continuing value have been generated by past ESD pro-democracy activism efforts. These resources are being collected and will soon be posted in a new ESD Resource Repository.

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