"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson


We as Americans all remember being taught when we were young about our nation's founders, the patriots who stood up to the tyranny of the crown of England, the drafters of the declaration of independence, the constitution, and the bill of rights, the documents that became the framework for a system of governance that they believed would maintain a balance of power within a truly representative government, that would preserve the basic rights and liberties of the people, let their voice be heard, and provide to them a government, as Lincoln later put it, "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

What we may not be so quick to recall, however, is that there was much debate between the founding fathers as to what model our system of government should follow. Those such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry on one side favored a pure and direct democracy with the legislative power vested in the very hands of the people, while others such as James Madison, John Adams and George Washington held that a representative democracy would better serve the people than a true democracy because they believed it would protect the individual liberties of the minority from the will of the majority. Alexander Hamilton even went so far as to support the creation of a monarchy. In the end, those favoring representative democracy won the day and that is the system they put in place in the hopes of creating a "more perfect union."

Now we must ask ourselves, what would the founding fathers think if they were resurrected today to see what has become of their vision? One can only assume that they would begin to search for modern day patriots to meet them once again at the liberty tree in order to plan a new struggle for freedom and self governance. Although we continue to praise and honor those who founded our nation and sought to create a truly just form of government for it, do we really stop to reflect on whether we as a nation have in fact succeeded in preserving what they fought so hard to create?

Today, in contrast to our revolutionary ancestors, we as citizens of the United States generally observe politics from afar and the vast majority of us may participate in the political process only to the extent that we go to the polls once a year to vote. Over the decades and centuries we have allowed the erosion of the ideals of the founding fathers and the corruption of the principles which they enshrined in those so carefully conceived documents. We have been left with essentially no real power to influence our "democratically" elected officials. We may write an occasional letter to our senator or representative that generates a form letter in response and a statistical data entry that may or may not be weighed against the influence of some powerful corporate lobby. We may be permitted to participate in a march or demonstration of thousands or even millions, something our patriots of old would have marvelled at, only to be dismissed as a 'focus group' with no bearing on policy decisions.

How then is the government held accountable to the voice of the people? Are the people meant to speak only at the polls when given a choice between a select few candidates that may be equally corrupt? No, as Jefferson and his allies rightly believed, the people should be heard much more than that.

In spite of their good intentions, the system of representative democracy that the founding fathers opted for has been systematically undermined and has ultimately failed in preserving the well being of the people of this nation. Most of us accept this reality as being beyond our control and continue to observe, comment, and complain without aspiring to achieving any real change. Our local leaders and activists in our communities, and even those local elected officials who may have the best of intentions are for the most part powerless to make real positive change happen in our neighborhoods, towns and villages when there is so much corruption from above.

We have become so accustomed to this failed system of representative democracy that it may not occur to us that there are other alternative forms of democracy. In various places around the world participatory or direct democracy has been instituted both in concert with representative democracy, and as a replacement for it. It is a form of democracy that is designed to take directly into account your views, and the views of your neighbors, and to politically empower you to make real positive change possible in your communities. Initiative, referendum & recall, community councils, and grassroots organizing are but a few ways in which direct/participatory democracy is achieving great success around the world.

This site will attempt to explore in depth the concept of participatory democracy and how this grass-roots based form of governance could help bring us back in line with the principles this country was founded upon if it were allowed to take root here. In the hope that one day we can become a nation working together as a united people practicing true democracy as true equals, we open this forum…



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Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador is calling upon US citizens to participate in protesting the unjust actions that the US government has taken against democracy in El Salvador. The pledge below is an opportunity for concerned citizens to participate in a grassroots response to the misguided and anti-democratic policies of US elected representatives regarding the upcoming elections in El Salvador. Please read the pledge below and visit the CISPES website - (CLICK HERE) to sign. -Editor

People’s Pledge to Defend Free & Fair Elections in El Salvador

Given that:

* The peoples of every nation have the right to political self-determination and autonomy.

* The U.S. government has a long history of outright manipulation of political, social & economic conditions in El Salvador to its own financial and political gain AND without concern for the wellbeing of the Salvadoran people.

* The U.S. government regularly channels funds—through United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—to destabilize popularly supported leftist governments across the globe, and particularly in Latin America, where countries are humanely rebuilding their nations to generate prosperity for all and to escape the stranglehold of US hegemony.

* The U.S. government has consistently and systematically interfered in the Salvadoran electoral process since the end of the civil war in 1992, through a premeditated combination of lies, malicious manipulation and diplomatic threats. One example: before the 2004 Presidential election, members of the U.S. Congress threatened to deport Salvadoran immigrants and cut off money being sent home to families if the ruling right wing party were not re-elected.

* The President of El Salvador openly called for U.S intervention in the upcoming elections during his November 2007 visit to Washington, DC, in a public event where he received the 2007 “Freedom Award” from the International Republican Institute.

* The Bush Administration has already begun to intervene in the 2009 elections in El Salvador through federal harassment of CISPES—limiting the support that concerned people in the US can give for free and fair elections in El Salvador.

As such, it is our duty as conscientious people—imbued with our own political strength—to curtail this profound abuse of power and influence. We pledge to take decisive action in the event of any statement or action made by elected or appointed U.S. officials, including members of the United States Congress, State Department, foreign embassies, and the White House, that intend to control the outcome of the 2009 presidential, municipal or legislative elections in El Salvador.

By pledging, we place ourselves on “active alert,” poised to hold protest actions and to call on U.S. government officials as part of a direct, national response to U.S. intervention in the 2009 Salvadoran elections.

In the name of true justice and true democracy we will raise our voices and take action in defense of the Salvadoran people’s right to determine their own fate.

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