Democratic logo, 2021

Deval Patrick, 2021Deval Patrick

The Arlington Democratic Town Committee held a forum about strengthening Democracy and voting rights May 6 that featured former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and was moderated by Arlington author Steve Almond.

“Our democracy is itself broken. The way that we move ideas through debate and onto legislation is broken,” said Patrick, who addressed the importance of balancing organizing efforts at both the local and national levels. “It’s a false choice. You have to do both.”

He went on to contextualize the anxiety and despair that many Democratic voters have begun to feel in light of the political upheaval of the last four years. “That’s the way black people have been feeling for generations. Now everybody’s feeling that way.”

Other featured speakers

The panel also featured prominent organizers Herb Meisner of the nonpartisan organization Common Cause, which works to lead and define the democracy reform movement, and Tony Mack of the Movement Voter Project, which helps grassroots groups organize their communities to build a stronger progressive movement. During a discussion on democracy reform, Meisner noted the term “democracy reform” doesn’t sound equitable to many voters.

Instead, he said, “If I talked about LGBTQ rights, climate change, voting expansion – these are things that people can relate to in everyday life.” In response to a question from Almond about how elected officials can engage the electorate, Mack noted a key difficulty. “I think there is no one silver-bullet policy that is going to mobilize voters. Every voter is different. Every community is different.”

After the end of the formal programming, the nearly 100 attendees were split into breakout rooms hosted by a variety of Massachusetts organizers that focused their discussions on how participants can take action to help address the issues raised during the forum.

The event was the first in a series of “Strengthening Democracy” forums, this one focused on national issues. The next installments of the series will focus on Massachusetts and municipal issues and are scheduled for June 3 and June 17, respectively.

The series is cosponsored by the Democratic Town Committees of Belmont, Boxborough, Brookline, Concord, Lenox, Lexington, Malden, Watertown, and Weston, as well as by organizing groups Indivisible Acton Area, Indivisible Billerica Tewksbury Wilmington, Our Revolution Arlington, Swing Left Greater Boston, Voter Choice Massachusetts, and Young Democrats of Massachusetts.


This news announcement was published Wednesday, May 12, 2021.