November 6, 2008, by Michael Fox – beyondelections.com
“I just got a call from the Associated Press,” announced the speaker before the crowd of Obama supporters packed in to the Virginia Democratic Headquarters in the McLean Hilton in
Record numbers of Americans participated Tuesday in one of the greatest moments in
Veteran journalist, Bill Moyers says that “our democratic process is in a state of crisis.” Regardless of who’s in office, control lies not in the hands of the American people, but with the lobbyists and special interests that fund the political campaigns and ultimately control public policy.
But for the first time in memory, we are at a crossroads. Since the birth of our country, citizens have slowly struggled to increase our democracy for all- from the right to vote, through the civil rights movement to the civil rights act, and struggles even until today to ensure that everyone has the right to cast their ballot, and that everyone’s ballot will be counted. But now a new window of opportunity has opened. That which many believed impossible only a few years ago has now become reality. An African American will lead the
Democracy does not end when you cast your vote. That is where it begins. In the words of the Portuguese academic Boaventura de Souza
We can no longer leave important local, regional or national decisions in the hands of our elected representatives alone. They should be held accountable, not to their campaign contributors, but to the citizens who they are supposed to represent. Our elected representatives should commit to fulfill their campaign promises, open up spaces of participation with decisions directly in the hands of the citizens (direct consultations, participatory budgeting, etc.), and to be willing to be held accountable by those they represent- not only during the election cycle, but throughout their entire term.
We have centuries of history to build on, and countless participatory experiences to learn from- both in the
“This is our moment. This is our time.” Said Obama on Tuesday evening before more than a hundred thousand supporters in
We are one, and we have the right to participate together in the decision-making processes that govern our lives. “And those who tell us that we can’t,” says Obama, “we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”
Michael Fox is a Latin America based journalist, reporter and filmmaker. He is Co-director of the recently released documentary, Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas, which has just been on tour around the