On a Rocky Hill in Athens, a ‘Democratic Odyssey’ Begins

Could a European People’s Assembly—Politician-Free and Chosen by Lottery—Become a Permanent Branch of Government?

Democracy was first built on a lot of loose rock.

Can democracy now be rebuilt on that very same ground?

Recently, I spent a long afternoon on a dusty and rocky Athens hill called the Pnyx for the first meeting of a novel assembly inspired by the past.

It was the most audacious and beautiful democratic event I’ve ever witnessed.

The Pnyx rises just west of the Acropolis. There, the ancient Athenian Ecclesia, consisting of local citizens mostly chosen by lot, gathered more than 100 generations ago to make all important government decisions. No …

A close up of George Washington on the dollar bill, which is slightly creased.

Saving Democracy Costs Money. How Do We Pay for It?

Increasing Civic Participation Is Expensive, But a New Idea—Democratic Action Funds—Could Help Raise the Cash

In this time of rising polarization, authoritarian populism, and maddening big-money politics, leaders often say that it’s up to we the people to save democracy.

But democracy costs money. And democracy—unlike …

A Tale of Two Venezuelan Diasporas

After a Forced Exodus, We’re All Rebuilding Our Lives. Geography, Time, and Class Only Seem to Deepen Our Divides

American media covers only two types of the 7 million-plus immigrants who have left Venezuela in the past decade.

The first consists of the refugees and asylum seekers who walked across …

Gavin Newsom’s ‘Campaign for Democracy’ Has a Democracy Problem

The Governor Should Keep His Eyes on the Homefront Instead of Battling ‘UnAmerican Extremists’ in Republican States

Gov. Gavin Newsom is doing a good thing by launching “Campaign for Democracy” against authoritarian governors who are limiting freedom in Republican states like Alabama and Florida.

But what he’s campaigning …

A Letter From Brazil: Where a Great Democracy Invention Is Making a Comeback

A Senator Reflects on the Birth, Decline, and Coming Resurgence of Participatory Budgeting

What are the obstacles and opportunities facing democracy today? Zócalo is publishing a series of letters to highlight how the world’s democratic ideals are faring in practice. From Brazil: Senator Humberto …