Liberal Groups Decry 'Silent Crisis of Democracy'

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - Lamenting what they call the "silent crisis of democracy," four liberal groups Thursday announced their policy prescriptions to repair democracy under threat by those currently in positions of political, economic and religious authority in the United States.

"Issues like Iraq, crime, health care -- life-and-death issues -- are so prominent on the news, electronic and print, but democracy had been more background music," Mark Green, president of the New Democracy Project and president of Air America Radio, said during a conference call briefing.

The Democracy Protection Act is a new report drawn up by the New Democracy Project, the polling firm Demos, the Nation magazine and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

"It's not an act in terms of one bill or one proposal that a subcommittee could entertain, if not ultimately enact," Green said. Rather, it was designed "to help elected officials, public officials, consider, introduce and ideally enact as many of these 40 proposals" as possible.

According to the report, "this two-century climb toward democracy has recently been halted, even reversed."

"A powerful group of new authoritarians in the Executive Branch, Congress, the clergy and corporations have contempt for the conversation of democracy," it states. "Trampling on the value of the flag far more than the couple of fools a year who burn it, these leaders pose a danger to our constitutional traditions."

The groups offer a 40-point proposal on ways to repair the system, including increasing voter access and participation, more transparent government, more restrictions on the executive branch and "economic justice to participate in democracy."

"You can't reform problems [arising] from war, pollution and economic inequality unless you have the process of democracy reflecting majority will," Green said.

Reacting to the report, Matthew Spalding, director of the Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said the proposals were not new, but "typical liberal social policy."

They come out of "the Petri dish of 40 or so organizations from around the country who have creative ideas reflecting that there is a crisis in democracy and we have to propose a broad pro-democracy agenda," he said.

The groups want to "inject this idea of how to repair our democracy into the public conversation for 2007 and 2008," Spalding added.

"I don't consider this to be a serious report," he told Cybercast News Service. "It is typical liberal social policy hiding under the guise of democracy."

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