I love America and I assume you do too. Part of what I love about it, is that while we didn’t invent democracy, we created the best version of it in recorded history.

Technically, we have a representative democracy, because “we the people” cannot possibly all participate in every decision. We elect representatives to do this on our behalf. Our votes reflect our policy preferences, beliefs and values. Sometimes our candidates win and sometimes they lose. This is how American democracy is supposed to work.

For a multitude of reasons, our democracy is being pushed to the brink. Unfortunately we have many people who no longer believe that their values are reflected by any candidate, or more specifically, by a candidate who has a shot of winning. Millions of Americans are victims of lies and propaganda and can no longer differentiate between fact and fiction.

All votes technically count, but realistically, some mean nothing because of gerrymandering. We have career politicians making decisions solely to maintain their power. Representing your community, your state or your country should be a temporary duty, almost a burden and not a career. According to the Pew Research Center, about 34% of Americans do not consider themselves a Democrat or a Republican. Our current (two party) system is not sustainable when power and partisanship is at the core of decisions that affect all Americans.

I believe there are five key ways to save our democracy. Some can be done on local or state levels, and some on a national level, but all are achievable in short order.

• Ranked choice voting

• Make it easier to vote, not harder

• End gerrymandering

• Removing dark money from politics

• Term limits

All of these ideas will promote and strengthen democracy in our country. If it effects one party negatively to have more people voting, or if their “right” to choose their voters is taken away (gerrymandering), or to unmask their wealthy donors, then what does that say about that party?

We are at a tipping point for democracy. This is NOT hyperbole, this is NOT fear mongering, this is, unfortunately, the situation American democracy finds itself in 2021. We have millions of disengaged citizens who have checked out of the entire process in part because of a lack of options, and in part because of the feeling that their vote doesn’t matter. We have partisans drawing up districts to help their party.

We deserve politicians in Congress with fortitude and integrity not just partisan hacks. We should have more people voting, not less. We should end the careers of career politicians, and we need to know where their financial support is coming from. We might not get another shot at fixing our democracy so please open your eyes, get your news from multiple sources and pay attention as if your democracy depends on it. Because it does.

Nathan Maas is an Owatonna resident.

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