Protecting Our Columns Of Democracy

Nicholas Johnson reads from his book Columns of Democracy at Prairie Lights in Iowa City March 30, 2019. photo: Trish Nelson

Nicholas Johnson is a hero of everyone here at BFIA.  Over the weekend we attended a reading of his new book at Prairie Lights book store in Iowa City.  Scroll down to the video below to view the entire reading and discussion.

In his new book, Columns of Democracy, Johnson identifies the five columns as the independent judiciary, the independent media, voting, education and libraries. He argues that it is not enough to fight for policies and issues. The fight must also be to save the institutions that are the columns of democracy. If the columns of democracy are weakened or dismantled, he argues, we will not be able to either save the planet or create fair and humane public policy.  “Democracies can correct policy mistakes. They can’t correct destruction of their Columns of Democracy.”

“Democracies are under attack in many countries including our own. Wannabe dictators feel threatened by democracies’ existence. Their destructive efforts are abetted by democracies’ citizen apathy. This book examines the institutions, the “columns” that support democracy. They include such institutions as independent media, K-12 and higher education, respected, independent judges, accessible voting systems, and public libraries. These institutions support both an active citizenry and meaningful checks on executives’ abuses. This book calls Americans to action – with suggestions. It also contains the author’s “columns” – an example of citizen use of the column of democracy called media.”


We got our autographed copy of Columns of Democracy at Prairie Lights but it is also available on Amazon.

Follow Nicholas Johnson on Facebook, Twitter, and

Interview by Ursula Ruedenberg at KHOI 89.1 FM Ames, Iowa


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