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10 Things You Can Do To Defend Democracy

We need a whole of society approach to defending democracy because there is a whole of society approach to destroying democracy, Jennifer Mercieca pointed out.

List by Jennifer Mercieca
Intro by Rachel Knight

The invasion of Ukraine – the largest European war since World War II –  has exposed the growing ruthlessness of authoritarian leaders towards democracy. Russian President Vladimir Putin is leading the charge in undermining democratic movements and popular uprisings. According to experts, his invasion of Ukraine is a window into a world without checks on authoritarian behavior and a warning and wakeup call to all democratic states. 

Jennifer Mercieca, professor of communication at Texas A&M University, said we must work together to defend democracy. She outlined 10 steps on Twitter that we can all take now to defend our democratic freedom.

“We need a whole of society approach to defending democracy because there is a whole of society approach to destroying democracy,” Mercieca’s Twitter thread began. “Every sector of society is under attack from anti-democrats. We must work together. And of course, that means you too. Democracy isn’t just defended with tanks, democracy is a way of life as well as a method of politics.”

Take action to defend democracy by following Mercieca’s democracy spreading practices.

  1. Build trust between different sectors of society and different factions. Democracy thrives with bridge building, it erodes with distrust and cynicism.
  2. Use whatever power you have, in whatever spheres of influence to ask one question, “are we doing enough to defend democracy?”
  3. Spread good information, both online and off. Support those who are generating and distributing good information (researchers, teachers, media, librarians).
  4. Support institutions, especially communal ones like libraries, food banks, schools. Support places where people connect.
  5. Call people in, not out. We tend to want to shame those with whom we disagree, but authoritarians thrive with alienation. Shaming and shunning will drive people toward authoritarians. Call them in, befriend them. Build bridges. Bridges strengthen democracy.
  6. Give money, time and attention to pro-democracy politicians, organizations, institutions and movements. Look for groups already working to support democracy.
  7. Democracy is everybody. Everybody. Check your innate skepticism of people not like you. Work on that. We need all of us.
  8. Go out in public as a democracy defender. Talk about democracy with people. Show up to events, hearings, etc. as a democrat. Join a march. Make being pro-democracy a thing people know about you and associate with you.
  9. Communicate as a democrat. That means using persuasion, not compliance-gaining strategies. That means being open to new information, perspectives, values. It means being inclusive, not exclusive. Democracy is a way of life, it’s also a way of thinking and communicating.
  10. Finally, do not be cynical. Do not defeat democracy with your cynicism. Block or mute cynical people/accounts. Cynicism is not useful for a pro-democracy movement. Hope is necessary. 

“We can do this,” Mercieca said. “Make a plan for spreading democracy, focus on the practices.”