In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on all governments to strengthen efforts devoted to “the promotion and consolidation of democracy” and dedicated September 15th as the International Day of Democracy. We don’t need to look far to find democracies in need of help. Our own is not in the best of shape these days.

As recent polls attest, large majorities of Americans express deep dissatisfaction with our political system, don’t feel their voice is being heard, and are hungry for the kind of civil society our Founders envisioned – one that truly reflects the will of the citizens, not special interests. 

On this Democracy Day, our most important task ought to be restoring Americans’ faith that our political system is worthy of their continued participation, which by most measures is in decline.  According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the global organization representing 190 parliaments around the world, Democracy is only as strong as the political participation of citizens and this must be increased.” We agree: Restoring public participation in the civic life of America ought to be our highest priority, this day and every day.

As IPU President Saber Chowdhury puts it, “Democracy as a concept is based on the right of every individual to take part and be represented in the management of public affairs and the decisions that affect them daily… There is no democracy without the voice of the people driving the political decision-making.”  Voice Of the People’s recent efforts to engage the public, and provide Congress with a new non-partisan resource giving them a direct line to the informed views of their constituents, on issues like Social Security reform and the Iran nuclear deal, are dedicated to precisely this purpose.

We can all do more to improve civic life in America: Getting informed on the issues, listening to each other’s points of view, and then demanding that our leaders listen to us and act for the common good is a great place to start. Please support us in these vital efforts.

These first steps are easy: Try one of our policymaking simulations and let your representatives know what you think Congress should do on some of the toughest issues they face – after you’ve had a chance to put yourself in their shoes, weigh the best arguments from all sides, and consider the tradeoffs. If you want to do more, consider making a special “Democracy Day” donation to help us continue these efforts. 

Our democracy works best when Congress listens to ‘we the people,’ not just the most powerful and best organized lobbying groups in Washington. In fact, the United States of America was founded on this premise. So let’s get on with it.

Happy Democracy Day, America!