Many writers now say we’re in code blue, and we need a blueprint to revive American Democracy. In his Washington Post August 4th review of two books Carlos Lazoda highlights how in the weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the muse of the death-of-democracy bookshelf began expanding – and not focused exclusively on Trump. He says, “The Trump presidency has produced so many books about the risks to government of, by and for the people that their titles sound like they’re having a conversation.”

The two sources of Lazoda’s attention are:
“ILL WINDS: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency” by Larry Diamond and “THE DEMOCRACY FIX: How to Win the Fight for Fair Rules, Fair Courts, and Fair Elections” by Caroline Fredrickson

Here’s his bottom line on the analysis of both:

“Trump’s eventual departure may indeed be necessary before reform is possible, as Diamond suggests. But citizens concerned about democracy have already been waiting — be it for Trump to self-destruct, Congress to impeach, Republicans to stand up, the base to shake loose, the opposition to coalesce, or Mueller to save the day. (Reminder: None of that has happened.) And a strategy that laments yet hopes to mimic the undemocratic instincts of one side to uphold the political preferences of another feels shortsighted.”

What if there was a unifying theory of democracy that would support people to address the tensions inherent to a thriving democracy? In 2017, the Institute for Polarities of Democracy was formed to help leverage the theoretical idealism and practical realism of Dr. Bill Benet’s Polarities of Democracy, a theory he had been developing for half a century and which came to fruition through the Polarity Thinking principles and tools of Dr. Barry Johnson and Polarity Partnerships. The goal for this effort? Simple.

Advancing organizational well-being and creating healthy, sustainable, and just communities.

Simple. Not easy. Lazoda considers an important point in his review about these two well-intentioned books on the challenges to American democracy. That is, “here we are still.”

What if we had a way of seeing the key tensions inherent to the beautiful messiness of the democratic experiment?  Something to supplement the gross “either/or” polarized arguments with a “both/and” perspective? Consider possibilities for the two approaches for framing the most vexing issues and opportunities related to guns, abortion, immigration …

Are we going to embrace Freedom OR Authority?
Which is more important, Justice OR Due Process?
Are we going to pursue Human Rights OR Communal Obligations?
Should we address needs related to Diversity OR Equality?
Are we going to rely on Participation or Representation?

The greatest threat to democracy in the above tensions isn’t the choice in the tensions. It’s the “OR” where there needs to be “AND.”

Freedom AND Authority
Justice AND Due Process
Human Rights AND Communal Obligations
Diversity AND Equality
Participation AND Representation

Carlos Lazoda has clearly stated the need for a blueprint to revive American Democracy. We encourage you to read his important message. At the Institute for Polarities of Democracy (IPD) we agree and extend this call to revive America’s historical commitment (not always carried out with the integrity required) to the promotion of democracy as the solution to oppression and the pathway to healthy, sustainable, and just communities.

Please check out IPD and if you’re interested in getting involved, I’d love to hear from you.

Cliff Kayser

VP Polarity Partnerships
CEO and Senior Fellow

Advancing organizational well-being and creating healthy, sustainable, and just communities. |