When democracy is threatened, it endangers our society’s fundamental rights and principles. According to Freedom House, the United States has had an 11-point decline in its democracy score in the past decade alone. Regardless of party affiliation, 8 in 10 Americans believe democracy is under threat, and Georgia voters rank it as the 2nd most important national issue above the economy, immigration, and abortion.
Let’s Dive Into Some of the Challenges Our Democracy Faces:
Political Polarization and Extremism: High levels of partisan animosity are a precursor to democratic collapse. With 60 to 70% of Americans viewing opposing parties as a “serious threat,” polarization has stifled compromise and caused demagogues to stoke anti-government sentiments. This erosion of trust in democratic norms and institutions has led to political violence and civil unrest.
Election Subversion: Trump’s indictment in Georgia for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election exemplifies Republicans trying to suppress votes when they don’t favor the outcome. This is part of a broader issue where lawmakers nationwide are introducing restrictive voting policies and transferring election administration powers to partisan actors. For instance, Georgia’s S.B. 202 allows the Republican majority to replace election administrators and challenge voter qualifications.
Technology: The rise of digital media fuels concern as misinformation and disinformation damage public trust in democratic institutions and stir dissent, which can be easily exploited by extremist groups. This environment makes it challenging for individuals to discern fact from fiction. Meanwhile, tech companies seek exemption from regulations on political advertising, privacy protection, product liability, and transparency.
Amidst these formidable challenges, the threats to our democracy may appear overwhelming. Nevertheless, there are numerous actions we can take within Georgia to promote a healthy democracy:
Make sure that the news you receive and share is from trusted sources to protect yourself and others from falling victim to echo chambers or extremist groups. Don’t be afraid to call out the misinformation/disinformation you see online!
Review candidates’ platforms before voting and sharing them to ensure you support candidates who align with your values and are free from extremism.
Volunteer. Campaigns are often built by the collective efforts of a few people. By volunteering with your preferred candidate through phone banking, canvassing, attending events, or something else, you can directly help pro-democracy candidates sweep the ballot!
Most importantly – Vote! Take yourself (and a friend!) to the polls and use what you’ve learned to vote in representatives who will uphold the rule of law, promote free and fair elections, and protect the rights of all Americans.