5Days4Democracy – Why Democracy?

Why democracy? This is a question that has been wrestled with since the Greeks first introduced a system of political reforms called demokratia, or “rule by the people” (from demos, “the people,” and kratos, or “power”). Today, we think of democracy as giving each person a voice, but in Ancient Greek only males had a voice, and, of course, only males with a certain amount of property and social status.

We’ve come quite a long way since some Ancient Greeks gathered to discuss their fates in the square of Athens. Modern democracies help to ensure that oppressed groups who would otherwise be excluded from politics have their voices heard – they can vote for policies and people they believe in. Modern democracies are also flexible; they have built-in checks and balances forcing regular electoral turnover and are able to adjust as society changes.

American democracy, due to geographic and population limitations, was formed as an indirect, representative democracy – we elect representatives who we think will give us a voice in our government. This however, means that we have to participate as citizens. At the very least, we have to vote, but citizenship also requires being aware of who is running, not just in the national elections, but in our local school board or city council elections. Democracy functions best when citizens are involved.

Overlapping silhouettes of Hands in a watercolour texture.

Why democracy? It gives us a voice – but to have that voice, we have to put in the work. National Voter Registration Day just passed, but you have until 10/5/2020 to register to vote before the November 3rd election. You can do that online here, print a blank form here or stop in at your local library to pick up a form. For additional information on voter registration or mail-in voting, check out RRPL’s 2020 General Election information page – or give us a call – we’ll be glad to answer your questions.

To get started researching who is running, try Ballotpedia; it’s a great source for non-partisan election information. It allows you to look up your ballot, find candidates in national and local elections, and take an in-depth look at candidates’ positions. Judge4Yourself provides independent non-partisan ratings of judicial candidates before every election. If you want to dig a little deeper, here are some other ways to participate in our democracy (from AARP.com):

  • Check out candidates’ websites – see what their stances are on issues you’re concerned about.
  • If one of the candidates is an incumbent in the House of Representatives or Senate, go to Congress.gov and research their voting records, find out what issues they concentrate on, and how to contact them.
  • Attend campaign events, including town halls (or participate in them  by phone or online) and informal coffees and other stops the candidates might be making in your community. Local party offices, public libraries and other community organizations usually have information on such events.
  • Find the campaign office and call or drop in. Candidates want your vote. Make them work for it. Ask to speak to the candidate or her or his representative and get your questions answered about the issues that matter to you.
  • Check the candidates’ answers on important issues. Factcheck.org, which is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, keeps track of candidates’ statements and claims.

Why democracy? Our democracy will work best if all Americans can have full and equal access to participation – and if all Americans participate fully.

~ Dori

5Days4Democracy -There’s Still Time!

Tomorrow is the first official day of the Five Days for Democracy event and you can sign up now, or any time this week, to receive Monday’s email! This might be the easiest program *ever* to join but will hopefully get you thinking and taking action, which can be hard work. It’s good for us flex those decision making muscles, it’s even better to feel like you made a positive difference for yourself and others. During these five days of emails, full of things to read or watch, small actions we can take every day or once in a while, and encourage discussion, all adding a little zing to your inbox! And who doesn’t need a little zing?!

Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.

—Stacey

5Days4Democracy -Join Us!

One of the things I most appreciate about being a citizen of the United States of America? I can make a difference each time I vote! And in-between elections, I can contact elected representatives, from local to Federal, when an issue is important to me!

From Monday, September 28 to Friday, October 2, Rocky River Public Library, our fellow public library systems in Cuyahoga County, and City Club of Cleveland are asking you to participate in Five Days for Democracy—a week dedicated to spending just a little bit of time each day thinking about what democracy means to you, why it’s important, and why it’s worth fighting for.

When you sign up, you’ll receive an email each day packed with opportunities to explore different facets of our democracy, in all its aspirations and failings. From listening to a podcast to watching a video, reading an article or responding to a call to action, each day you’ll pick one challenge to complete. And maybe you’d like to start reading a little something right now, like a little prep work for the week? Check out on of the many titles suggested in the 5 Days for Democracy collection!

Five days. Five challenges. Five ways to strengthen your role in our democracy.

Sign up at Five Days for Democracy and get ready to embrace your voting power!

—Stacey