Rebuilding Democracy

People in the U.S. yearn for a re-birth of
democracy, according to Harry C. Boyte. He says re-building after a hurricane
is an opportunity o

…the response
to Katrina
also suggests
that Americans
are searching
for a rediscovery
of the democratic
— Harry C. Boyte

People in the U.S. yearn for a re-birth of democracy, according to Harry C. Boyte, writing in today’s Christian Science Monitor.

Boyte says governance is not limited to government. He points to the Industrial Areas Foundation based in Chicago as a source of examples of community-led governance models. The IAF includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, racial and ethnic diversity and a wide range of political perspectives. Community participation through broad-based community involvement in policy-making enhances the creation of civic institutions, according to Boyte. He cites the creation of more effective public schools as illustration.

Boyte says “there is an urgent need for accountability and cooperative work to become core values in the civic culture.” Many in the religious and non-profit communities demonstrate transparency as they conduct their work everyday. They also routinely work across lines that divide. This expertise is a great asset not only for building physical infrastructure, but also for re-envisioning what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “blessed community.”

If these assets are recognized and allowed to influence re-building, a resurgence in the spirit of democracy could result. If not, we will face more of the same individualism, division and alienation we’ve seen so often in the current environment.

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