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The IMI Journal: Standing Up for Democracy Today, and Learning From the Past

July 25, 2021

What makes the GOP attack on our elections system so dangerous is actually a media problem. The public has little context in which to understand the latest dangerous efforts to undermine our democracy because the corporate media model doesn’t give journalists and election experts the opportunity to explain how states actually count and certify elections.

IMI is so proud to be working with Steven Rosenfeld’s Voting Booth project, a national leader in covering the finer points and the legal issues involved. The work is priceless—the voting and elections community reads and trusts Voting Booth, helping them make better decisions; reporters from all over the country take pointers from the reporting; and the general public is getting the best view possible on what really matters and what’s at stake. The problems are bad, the crisis is real—but at least from a media standpoint, this is exactly the kind of public interest journalism that we need.

Check out Voting Booth’s latest reporting on Arizona, the Trump-era GOP experiment for how to try to crash an election system. Rosenfeld’s recent article on the Supreme Court’s decision about Arizona’s new voting laws is the best, most concise reporting on the consequences of a majority decision on voting rights you’ll find. Hold it up against the New York Times—you come away better informed, and poised to help our democracy. There are seemingly millions of subscribers for diluted journalism on the key democratic issues of our time, and only a fraction of that financial support for the journalists who are the leaders on social issues. It’s time for that to change.

We at IMI are really trying to push the boundaries and keep producing work that can shift the parameters of debate. April M. Short’s work for Local Peace Economy has recently focused on the huge historical lessons from the past about society and human nature. I urge you to sit down with her article that looks at how societies of the past have survived climate change. In it, she interviews the authors of a major study that looks at thousands of years of evidence in Mesopotamia and concluded that the societies that were cooperative and less hierarchical survived—and the ones that weren’t or couldn’t adapt did not. A social dimension to surviving climate change? The message we hear in the media for addressing climate change often comes down to individual choices we make as consumers, and how huge businesses are shifting their production process.

Another one from April Short that I keep turning back to is an interview she did with an expert on the history and culture of warfare, who compared our past to the modernized version of it that sucks up tax dollars more than any other human activity. It turns out that humanity has colossal sample sizes of thousands of years, hundreds of societies that thrived without warfare—these understandings of ancient life are in fact revolutionary when you hold them up against the way we live today. Short’s other articles on pioneering cooperation projects in the U.S. on food, housing and sustainability are inspiring people to join the good social causes and projects around us—I know it because we get the letters from readers who share that it inspired them to act within their communities.

That’s powerful media.

Please check out our other most recent stories below—and if you haven’t already, please join us and support our work!

Thanks from Jan Ritch-Frel and the rest of the IMI team.

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