Assuming Democracy: Adam Says Hello

After too many years working in the advertising industry as a Creative Director, one day I came to the liberating conclusion that I no longer wanted to sell people things they didn’t need. This reluctant admission was instantly followed by a life-changing question: what if I take the skills I have for selling people stuff they don’t need, and use them to sell people stuff they do need, like a stake in their world and a claim on their democracy?

So, I defected from advertising and got busy working to persuade people that democracy matters. In my own small way, I have done good work to that end. However, as I look out on the current state of democracy all over the world, I realize that I have been operating on a false and dangerous predicate. It’s what a friend of mine calls assuming democracy. In other words, all those years I worked to nudge the world toward justice, I assumed democracy was a given. I no longer make that assumption.

What I have come to believe is that democracy is inherently uncertain. It is a living system, one that must define and redefine itself in order to make progress. This is one of its greatest strengths. But its uncertain nature can also make it elusive because the power it confers can only be fully grasped in the present moment, which means it must never be assumed.

That’s why I am very proud to be working with Healthy Democracy as its Marketing Manager. At the heart of our mission is a belief that the work of democracy is ongoing, and that its ultimate goal is to continually return itself to the governed. I believe Healthy Democracy’s commitment to the lottery-based mechanisms that make this possible is precisely the medicine democracy needs right now.

So, as I begin my journey here, I am surprised to find that I am hopeful. It’s crazy, I know. But I look forward to the future and my work with Healthy Democracy because I know we are part of a growing, international movement that recognizes this moment is not cause for despair, but rather a call to the courage required to reaffirm and reimagine the democratic systems we use to govern ourselves.

Adam Klugman