Open Democracy Book Club: Becoming a Democracy
The United States wasn't built as a democracy. The Senate doesn't represent people. Both sides hate gerrymandering and the courts refuse to fix it. Our right to be heard is defeated by voter suppression and an Electoral College system that concentrates power in a handful of states and too often reverses the popular vote. But within our flawed system, we have the tools to tackle our most stubborn election problems by flexing state and local power (no constitutional amendments or courts required).
This should be the last American election that works against the people. Kristin Eberhard, Director of Democracy at Sightline Institute, thoughtfully researched how the U.S. election system is unjust to many by design, and walks us through 10 big but practical ideas for making our elections free, fair, and secure. Now is the time:
- More than half of Americans live in just nine states. That means less than half the population controls 82 percent of the Senate. It doesn't have to be that way. We can hope the Senate eliminates the filibuster. But while we're holding our breath, what if we went further and remade the Senate to represent people?
- Voter suppression justified by trumped up fears of double voting and dead voters – why? There's already a simple, proven solution working in 30 states to keep voter lists secure and accurate.
- Feel stuck with the Electoral College reversing the popular vote? That isn't even in the Constitution! There is a path for states to ensure the candidate with the most votes wins (and we're already on it).
- We could defeat gerrymandering and create a multi-party system where voters have more options, lawmakers get more work done, and extremists are relegated to the fringe, unable to take over a major party.
A field guide to better elections for both sides of the aisle, Becoming a Democracy illuminates the meaningful, concrete actions that can transform our elections and make sure everyone's vote counts (and that they get to vote in the first place).
Author Kristin Eberhard is a researcher, writer, speaker, lawyer and policy analyst. She is known as a leading expert on electoral reform in the Pacific Northwest, and is considered an authority on proportional representation as well as carbon pricing. She will join us for the first half hour of our program to discuss the book and answer your questions.
Publication Date: January 11th, 2021
Available on paperback (12.99) from Gibson's Bookstore, Toadstool Books and Water Street Bookstore as well as your favorite retailer.
Open Democracy Book Club: One Person, No Vote
The selected title for our second Open Democracy Book Club will be One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson.
From the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of White Rage, the startling--and timely--history of voter suppression in America, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin, now with a new afterword by the author.
In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.
Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. In a powerful new afterword, she examines the repercussions of the 2018 midterm elections. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.
About the Author
Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University. She is the author of One Person, No Vote, longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award; White Rage, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; Bourgeois Radicals; and Eyes off the Prize. She was named a Guggenheim Fellow for Constitutional Studies and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: September 17th, 2019
Open Democracy Book Club - Sign up Page
In 2020, in some of the darkest days of the COVID pandemic, one of our Open Democracy Team members proposed an "Open Democracy Book Club." To our surprise, 300 citizens registered for the first book and discussion in January. Certainly, the pandemic gave us some time at home to read, but the hunger to learn about the problems and how to fix them was there already. Our Book club now more than 500 members!
To understand our three guiding questions, in relation to our democracy:
Where are we?
How did we get here?
What do we do about it?
Books and Discussions
We work on a new book every six weeks or so, culminating with a discussion. We have the author speak for 30 minutes, then break up into Zoom breakout rooms for small group discussions, usually facilitated by an Open Democracy staff member or volunteer.
Everyone is welcome to participate, whether or not you have had the chance to read the book.
Our Next Books have been decided for 2023!
Our first book club meeting will be January 17, 2023 at 7 pm. We will be discussing Democracy Vouchers. In Democracy Vouchers, Tom Latkowski shares everything you need to know to start championing this transformative campaign finance system in your city and state.
The author will join us for the first half hour of the meeting for discussion and Q&A. You can find the full details and RSVP HERE.
On April 13th we welcome bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and Emmy award-winning producer and correspondent Hedrick Smith to our book club for a discussion of his book Who Stole The American Dream?
This book is essential reading for all of us who want to understand America today, or why average Americans are struggling to keep afloat. Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists.
Full details and RSVP HERE.
On June 13th we will review Carol Anderson's One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. In a powerful new afterword, she examines the repercussions of the 2018 midterm elections. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans. Full details and RSVP link are available HERE.
On September 14, author Kristin Eberhard will join us to discuss her book Becoming a Democracy: How We Can Fix the Electoral College, Gerrymandering and our Elections. A field guide to better elections for both sides of the aisle, Becoming a Democracy illuminates the meaningful, concrete actions that can transform our elections and make sure everyone's vote counts (and that they get to vote in the first place).
Full details and RSVP can be found HERE.
How to Get the Book
While there's no cost for being a part of the Open Democracy Book Club, it's up to you to get the book. On the RSVP page for each of the events, we'll post information about the book, including the author's bio and ISBN number and other info you'll need to find it. We encourage you to order it through your local bookseller, get it from your local library but you order any way you wish.
Sept 15, 2022 Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want Paperback by June 9, 2022 -The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
April 14, 2022 - How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
Jan 13, 2022 "Democracy in Chains" with Nancy MacLean
Oct 14, 2021 "Our Time is Now" by Stacey Abrams
May 27, 2021 "The Politics of Joy (and Sacrifice): The Fearless Walks and Historic Talks of Doris "Granny D" Haddock", a compilation of inspiring speeches given by Doris with Dennis Burke
Apr 15, 2021 "They Don't Represent Us" with Lawrence Lessig
March 4, 2021 "Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy". with David Daley
January 21, 2021 "Corporations are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy from Big Money and Global Corporations" by Jeff Clements
Sign Up Below
We'll notify you of the new book, the date of the discussion, and sometimes discussion questions. You'll also be added to the Open Democracy Book Club email discussion, where you'll be able to ask questions and have discussions with your fellow readers.
A Healthy Democracy is Good Business
NH's Reputation as a Leader in Fair Elections May Be in Jeopardy - New Hampshire is fortunate to have higher than average civic engagement. Our state leaders often point to our status as the first-in-the-nation Presidential primary and our well-run elections as proof of the Granite State's exceptional civic involvement.
NH Needs an Educated, Civically-Engaged Workforce - Businesses and organizations large and small depend on an educated, civically-engaged workforce.
In 2022, deliberate barriers to voting were set in law in New Hampshire. These barriers particularly impact young workers, students, folks who might want to move to New Hampshire for work. Companies considering expanding here may think long and hard before making a commitment.
Legislators Must Hear that Businesses Support a Healthy Democracy - Below is a "Statement of Principles to Support New Hampshire's Democracy." We're asking your organization to consider signing on to these principles, which we will communicate to the New Hampshire legislature and Governor.
Please reach out with questions, suggestions, or comments:
Olivia Zink, Executive Director, Open Democracy
Sara Lobdell, Program Coordinator, Open Democracy
More on why a Healthy Democracy is Good Business, from Open Democracy member Thomas Oppel:
Statement of Principles
by New Hampshire Businesses and Organizations which support a healthy democracy
I. We believe that a NH government of, by, and for its citizens must safeguard the precious freedom to vote for ALL of its eligible citizens.
II. For the NH Government to truly represent its citizens, it must guarantee universally accessible and secure voting, and ensure there are no existing or future barriers to exercise that right.
III. We will not support, with our contributions or our votes, any candidates or elected representatives who initiate, vote for, or support laws that make voting more difficult for NH citizens. Nor shall we support those who oppose laws to make the voting process more efficient.
IV. Just as true prosperity in NH requires that all businesses play on a level playing field, we must have a level playing field for our elections and politics. Our NH voting districts must be based on valid census information and be free of manipulation by partisan voting data, and to ensure this, the redistricting process must be public, and its methods disclosed.
V. Together, we believe that when the electoral system is fair, and the constitutional rights and values of our citizens are honored, our NH Government will truly be “of the people," our economy will be prosperous, and both will work for the greater good of all.
This statement and its signers will be communicated to
The Governor, the Executive Council, the NH Senate and House, and the NH Secretary of State
Open Democracy Organizing Fellowship
Application and description HERE.
Open Democracy Research Fellowship
Application and description HERE.
How do I apply?
Email Olivia Zink [email protected] expressing your interest with a resume and cover letter to apply to either position.
Open Democracy is committed to an inclusive democracy movement. As such, we are an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to recruiting, hiring, training, promoting and administering any and all personnel actions without regard to gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, age, national origin, religion, economic status, or ability, or any other legally protected status, and will not tolerate discrimination or harassment.
Coalition for Open Democracy | 4 Park Street, Suite 301 | Concord, NH 03301 | 603.715.8197 www.OpenDemocracyNH.org| [email protected]
In order for us to efficiently get you all relevant information, please tell us what types of emails communications you would like to receive.
If you previously "opted out" either intentionally or accidentally, please go here for instructions or help on rejoining our membership list.
Carol Shea-Porter, Chair. – former member of Congress (D-NH); politics and history teacher; founder of a non-profit social service agency
John Broderick – former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court; former Executive Director of the Rudman Center at University of New Hampshire Law School
Brad Cook – partner and past President of Sheehan Phinney Law Firm; Chair of the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission
Lew Feldstein – past President of the NH Charitable Foundation; co-author of Better Together: Restoring the American Community
Paul Hodes – former member of Congress (D-NH); attorney; member, National Council on the Arts; founder of the Economic Innovation Institute
Joe Magruder – former News Editor, Associated Press of New Hampshire
Lillye Ramos Spooner – Director of Operations for Greater Manchester AIDS Project; former member of the NH Commission on the Status of Women
Stephen Reno – Executive Director of Leadership New Hampshire; former Chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire
John Rauh – former President of Americans for Campaign Reform, now part of Issue One; former Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate
Jim Rubens – entrepreneur; former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate; former New Hampshire state Senator
Betty Tamposi – Assistant Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush; as a state Representative, was Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; former member of the Board of Governors of the University of New Hampshire
Dan Weeks – co-owner of ReVision Energy; former Executive Director of Open Democracy
** Affiliations listed for identification purposes only. Advisory Board members serve in their individual capacities.
Open Democracy is working to achieve political equality for all.
We envision a government accountable to the people, free from the influence of wealthy special interest groups.
With your help, we will:
1. Establish small donor, voter-owned honest elections
2. End gerrymandering and modernize voting
3. Eradicate Super PACs & neutralize Citizens United
4. Expose unlimited, anonymous Dark Money
5. Eliminate Pay-to-Play lobbyist & contractor donations
6. Enforce campaign finance laws & close loopholes
- Volunteer, or join a regional Open Democracy Team! Right now, protecting our democracy needs you to speak up, and to take action.
- Give a one-time or recurring gift to help support our mission, if you're unable to take action. This helps us organize others and expand the chorus of voices for reform! You can also mail us a check to "Coalition for Open Democracy": 4 Park Street, Suite 301, Concord, NH 03301
We welcome your questions and ideas! Please contact us anytime:
4 Park Street, Suite 301
Concord, NH 03301