Improv & Democracy: A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Reigniting Inclusive Political Engagement in America

Improv & Democracy: A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Reigniting Inclusive Political Engagement in America

Created: 22 March, 2021
Last update: 14 August, 2022
“It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.” - John Cleese

Independent voters have been in the forefront of a movement to change the rules of the political game in the United States. We have led efforts to open the primaries to all voters, establish independent non-partisan redistricting commissions and introduce reforms like Ranked Choice Voting to the voting process itself.

However, democracy isn’t just about how we vote for leaders. It’s about creating communities where people can make decisions about how they want things to go. Expanding our democracy requires a cultural shift away from the narrow partisan fights that dominate the current dialogue and toward a more radically inclusive and open-ended form of political conversation.

But how can we affect such a cultural shift? One outside-the-box answer to that question is: Improvisation. That’s an activity worth exploring according to Don Waisanen, a professor in the Baruch College, CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs and a trained comedic improviser, and Marian Rich, a longtime grassroots political organizer and independent who is also a performance activist and comic educator.

These two eclectic political improvisers are teaming up for a unique virtual workshop, Improv & Democracy, that will take place on Saturday March 27, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm Eastern time. They seek to elevate new conversations and build more aspirational forms of civic engagement grounded in play and performance, building upon (but also as a foil for) the somber and serious spirit in which so much of this work is typically carried out.

Sound intriguing? You can find out more about Don and Marian and the Improv & Democracy workshop by checking this link.

I’ll be there. I hope you can join me.

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About the Author

David Belmont

David Belmont is a multi-media artist, community organizer and long-time political reform activist. He was Ballot Access Coordinator for Dr. Lenora Fulani’s 1988 presidential campaign and is currently a researcher for Independent Voting.