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Defending Democracy: Now comes the hard part – how do we keep its music playing?


Yes, the U.S. midterm elections defended (rescued?) American democracy.

Now comes the hard part: How to strengthen that democracy in the coming days, months, and years. How to overcome the many inevitable distractions of “life happens” for each of us and the firehose of events and news of these “Roiling Twenty-Twenties”.


(Or, paraphrasing an old popular song, “How do you keep the democracy music playing?”  *.)


The answer: Start that critical, long-term effort right now with a bevy of impressive new resources available today:



First, the unprecedented back-to-back supportive commentaries by two former United States presidents, a Republican and a Democrat.


Today, former President George w. Bush is highlighting the George W. Bush Institute Dallas conference, “The Struggle For Freedom” which features this theme: “Now is the moment to refresh and expand our commitment to the democratic principles that have enshrined individual, political and economic rights in free societies.”


Tomorrow, former President Barack Obama will address the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum in Chicago. His ongoing theme: “If we want democracy to flourish, we will have to fight for it, we will have to nurture it, we will have to demonstrate its value again and again in improving the lives of ordinary citizens.”



Also encouraging: new commitments supporting and promoting democracy by universities preparing students for careers in journalism and other fields of mass communications.


This week Howard University launched its impressive Center for Democracy and Journalism. For its Summit conference this week these muscular themes:


“American democracy is teetering…The American press, protected by democracy, must meet the moment.”

:…’balance’. In the face of anti-democratic forces, this is an unworkable approach and a crisis for our profession and our country.”

“Our profession is the firewall for our democracy…Where do we go from here?”


In early 2023,  Syracuse University will launch its Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship Institute. Mission:  “a new center in Washington with a goal of addressing some of the biggest issues facing American democracy.”


The center is a joint project of two of SU’s most prestigious schools – the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.


As an important bookend to these new university prioritizations of democracy, the public relations profession has established a related resource for such important commitments. Check it out at the Public Relations Society of America’s Voices4Everone civic engagement platform headlined, “Hyperpolarization is Crumbling Our Democratic and Civic Foundations.”


Many well-established pro-democracy national and international organizations are, of course, also hard at work on this vital societal mission.


We can all take great inspiration from the many young voters (under 30) who turned out in record-breaking numbers in this year’s election. It’s clear that to them, democracy matters.


Of course, it matters to all of us.


*”How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” LeGrand/A, M, Bergman 1982