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Opinion | Democracy encompasses more than elections

Opinion | Democracy encompasses more than elections

Regarding E.J. Dionne Jr.’s May 1 op-ed, “Biden looks to challenge Republicans on freedom”:

I am disappointed that the definitions offered by our Democratic Party are so outdated. When will we realize that as society evolves so should our definitions of freedom? How about freedom to have a meaningful voice in between elections?

Across Europe, governments are moving away from minimalistic definitions of democratic engagement tied to a vote. From the German Bundestag to Paris, deliberative citizens’ assemblies are set up to provide citizens with a seat in policy reform.

I was one of four guarantors of the French citizens’ assembly on the end of life. After weeks of learning, the 184 citizens selected by democratic lottery listened to each other, deliberated and presented proposals to President Emmanuel Macron to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia. Despite the sensitive topic, the report was approved by an overwhelming 92 percent.

I am a proud owner of Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” poster — truly revolutionary for the 1940s. In 2023, President Biden and his team would be wise to update their definition of “freedom in its richest sense” to include the freedom to have consequential voice and provide meaningful input in government decision-making in between elections.

Marjan H. Ehsassi, Washington

The writer is a nonresident future of democracy fellow at the Berggruen Institute.

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