Strengthening Democracy

Strengthening Democracy I

A United Agenda for Democratic Reform

Report CoverThe Agenda for Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy was developed by a diverse group of thinkers, advocates, and academics, who came together from across the fields of electoral reform, deliberative democracy and community development. Together, we represent a vibrant emerging movement for a stronger democracy.

Download the Agenda (pdf 470KB)

The Agenda is comprised of an exciting set of recommendations to strengthen democracy in America. We believe the Agenda will build on the incredible participation we have seen during this election season by providing a real voice for every American in our governance process. Together these recommendations will transform the relationship between citizens and their government.

We will formally be releasing this document in mid-November and have begun to share it with presidential candidates, lawmakers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and individual citizens for endorsement.

Three Key Proposals

The Agenda includes three primary elements:

  • Establish a White House Office on Civic Engagement and Make an Institutional Commitment to Greater Participation
  • Establish an institutional commitment to participation through the creation of a White House Office that serves as a champion for participation in the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government and an Inter-Agency Council that fosters greater collaboration and participation among Federal Agencies.

  • Convene National Discussions to Provide Citizens with a Voice in the Policy Making Process and Build Capacity for Greater Participation at All Levels
    Provide the public with a greater voice in national policy making by supporting the convening of national discussions on critical policy issues. The national discussions may address specific policy questions that are being addressed by Congress or broader issues that require action at multiple levels of American society. Specific provisions will ensure that public priorities are responded to by the Federal government.
  • Adopt Policy Reforms for Increasing Participation in Public Life
    Advance a package of policy reforms to increase participation that includes a law that enables greater civic engagement in Federal agency policy making and electoral reform legislation.

Strengthening Democracy II

An impressive group of American experts and advocates of democracy reform came together in summer 2009 to create new momentum and plans for strengthening democracy by engaging all citizens in the selection of their leaders, influencing laws and regulations, and taking public action.

At the Strengthening our Nation’s Democracy conference, key leaders from the Obama Administration shared their plans and accomplishments in the area of democratic participation and reform. The participants, in turn, created a set of priorities for advancing democracy reform and open government, which they presented to Administration leaders.

The conference resulted in a practical agenda for addressing the increasing loss of peoples’ trust in – and sense of connection to – our systems of politics and governance. Participants developed 10 detailed recommendations and action steps for both the Administration and the democracy reform movement itself:

  • Involve the American public in meaningful deliberations about important policy questions
  • Support and promote an electoral reform agenda
  • Improve federal public participation and collaboration
  • Explore lessons from the Open Government Dialogue
  • Recognize and support engagement carried out by traditionally disenfranchised communities
  • Create a report on the health of our democracy
  • Build skills and capacity for public engagement
  • Increase the availability of federal funding for democratic participation
  • Convene an international democracy conference
  • Create an ongoing mechanism for sustaining leadership

Read the report: Working Together to Strengthen Our Nation’s Democracy.

Working groups quickly formed to further develop these priorities and have already begun to develop policy recommendations, strategies for individual projects, and plans for implementing their proposed collaborative efforts.

Campaign for Stronger Democracy

The two Strengthening Our Nation’s Democracy Conferences led to the creation of the Campaign for Stronger Democracy.