UUCLB’s Saving Democracy Team
Democracy Priorities: 118th Congress
Save Democracy, Prevent Autocracy:
UUCLB’s Saving Democracy Team and Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) Democracy Action Teams’ overarching long term goal is to save our democracy from the powerful forces that are attacking it.
These forces are evident in the widespread efforts to deny voting rights, the violent attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election, and in the efforts to make our national legislative bodies ineffective.
In service of our primary goal we will focus on voting rights and related democracy legislation, efforts to make Congress more effective, and educating the public about what is happening while taking action individually and collectively.
Defend elections by assuring that the counting of votes and certification of elections is free from manipulation or subversion, by protecting election workers from threats and harassment, and by strengthening election infrastructure against hacking and misuse.
Find opportunities to make it easier for all Americans to register and vote by supporting automatic registration, early voting, mail-in voting and drop boxes, by expanding restoration of voting rights to felons and by opposing unnecessary and discriminatory voting restrictions.
Reduce the power of the wealthy and corporations over our democracy by supporting limits on the raising and spending of money to influence elections, establishment of public campaign financing systems and stronger ethics rules for both Congress and the Supreme Court.
Fight debilitating hyper-partisanship by supporting bipartisan efforts to reduce voter misinformation, end gerrymandering and reforms that reduce the power of extreme partisans such as ranked-choice voting.
Educate the public about the threats to democracy and risks of autocracy through mailings and action alerts, and by sponsoring events with respected noteworthy speakers.
What Guides Us:
Everyone in this country, and all of our social justice priorities, are dependent on having a strong and well-functioning democracy, a healthy inclusive democracy.
Our work is grounded in our UU Principles, particularly the 5th principle: the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; as well as UUSJ’s mission, vision and organizational values.
We seek and use guidance from our democracy partner organization members, our fellow UUSJ action team members, as well as those most impacted by voter suppression.
For more information about meeting times and activities, <<CLICK HERE>> or contact UUCLB’s Saving Democracy Team at DemocracyTeam@UUCLB.org.
Recommended Books and Events
Register to vote
To Register to vote in CA
UUCLB Social Justice Council’s and UUSJ’s Recommended Read
UUSJ – Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, a National Organization is hosting a Zoom event on:
Wednesday January 10 at 5:00 pm PT
The book contains many, many suggestions for work we can all do to help save our democracy. Click here to register for this event.
UUSJ also recommends
Tyranny of the Minority event with authors Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky.
To view the event held on 11/5/2023 in Concord, Connecticut, go to this link: https://youtu.be/PCr6LUAh-nQ
Links to UUSJ’s September’s Webinar: A Fascist Campaign in Full View?
Fascist Campaign Video? CLICK HERE -> Video
Fascist Campaign Presentation? CLICK HERE -> Presentation
5th UU Principle: The Right of Conscience and the Use of the Democratic Process Within Our Congregations and in Society at Large
The Right of Conscience (Encyclopedia.com)
The phenomenon of a right of conscience arises only in a society that takes seriously the autonomy of individual persons. Philosopher James Childress has described appeals to conscience as “a person’s consciousness of and reflection on his own acts in relation to his standards of judgment.” (Childress, 1979) Rights of conscience are political rights that protect people’s ability to do what they believe is morally best: they are political autonomy rights. Common scenarios for the exercise of a right of conscience in healthcare include seeking an exemption from mandatory vaccination and, for physicians, refusing to participate in morally controversial procedures like abortion.
To understand the political role of rights of conscience, it helps to think of the activities a person might engage in as falling into one of three political categories: (1) prohibited, (2) permitted, or (3) required. In Western societies, the vast majority of possible activities are permitted, meaning people may engage in that activity if they wish (it is not prohibited), but they do not have to engage in that activity (it is not required). A person may exercise autonomy, then, in deciding whether to engage in the activity. Likewise, some activities (e.g., murder, robbery) may be prohibited, and some activities (e.g., military service in times of war) may be required.
While several points of debate continue to remain contentious, some general observations can be made concerning the appropriate exercise of a right of conscience. First, such rights should only be exercised if doing so does not pose a threat of significant harm to others. Second, the exercise of a right of conscience should be based upon values that play a central role in the life of the person claiming a right of conscience.
Use of the Democratic Process (Wikipedia)
Generally, the two types of democracy are direct and representative. In a direct democracy, the people directly deliberate and decide on legislation. In a representative democracy, the people elect representatives to deliberate and decide on legislation, such as in parliamentary or presidential democracy. Liquid democracy combines elements of these two basic types.
Prevalent day-to-day decision making of democracies is the majority rule, though other decision making approaches like supermajority and consensus have been equally integral to democracies. They serve the crucial purpose of inclusiveness and broader legitimacy on sensitive issues, counterbalancing majoritarianism, and therefore mostly take precedence on a constitutional level.
In the common variant of liberal democracy, the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. Besides these general types of democracy, there have been a wealth of further types (see below).
According to American political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; protection of the human rights of all citizens; and a rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens. Todd Landman, nevertheless, draws our attention to the fact that democracy and human rights are two different concepts and that “there must be greater specificity in the conceptualization and operationalization of democracy and human rights”.
(from the New Yorker, Why the Right Keeps Saying That the United States Isn’t a Democracy, October 15, 2020, By Sue Halpern
Democracy relies on trust. Not trust in democracy itself but trust in one another. When we vote, we come together to articulate our singular will with the understanding that we will submit to the collective will. Trust permeates the system: we trust that our vote will be counted accurately; we trust that the people we’re choosing to represent us have our best interests and those of the country at heart. The most sacred trust is that, when the votes are all tallied, the losing candidate will walk away with grace.