Democracy Beyond Elections
Democracy Beyond Elections (DBE) is a collaborative campaign anchored by the Participatory Budgeting Project, which seeks to deepen participatory democracy and civic engagement, beyond and between elections. The core principle of Democracy Beyond Elections is community-led decision making power that is equitable, accessible, and significant.
We’re facing a crisis of credibility and lack of trust when it comes to government in the United States.
Democracy in the United States remains largely limited to occasionally electing a few leaders to decide for us. This structural political inequality may work well for those in power, but it is also fueling deep polarization, distrust of government, and skepticism of democracy itself.
And yet, most responses to this democratic crisis have been confined within our dysfunctional political system. While reforms to our existing systems are critical – making voting more accessible and less driven by money, expanding civic engagement, and holding our elected officials accountable to the people who elected them – this alone will not fix our democracy.
Communities across the country are demanding more meaningful ways to engage with their neighbors, develop solutions to public problems, and real decision-making power.
Build mutual trust between communities and government, and expand public power over decisions.
It’s time to invest in new models of participatory democratic governance led by and for communities traditionally left out of decision-making spaces.
There are communities around the world that have already seen the ways that participatory democracy can make government more responsive and equitable. Over 7,000 cities use participatory budgeting to enable residents to directly decide how to spend public budgets. In states and nations, policy juries and assemblies convene representative samples of the community to produce decisions and statements on policies, ballot measures, and constitutions.
Research shows that this engagement increases understanding of and trust in government, inspires transformative learning and civic leadership, and directs resources to communities with greater needs.
How we got started
[Brief history of the DBE Coalition]