03/29/2012 03:53 pm ET Updated May 29, 2012

Celebrating Democracy Portlandia Style

Democracy is our oldest and most sacred of national institutions but you wouldn't
necessarily know it. Consider how little time we spend actually acknowledging and
celebrating it. Oh sure, there's July 4th -- but that's really more about our emancipation
from British tyranny. Election day isn't even a holiday in the United States.

We don't take democracy for granted. It only takes a few seconds of tuning into the radio, TV or Google to see the mess of differing opinions. People talking about how we should vote, or what issues are the most important in the next election, and how much better or worse one view is than another.

We hear about how our democracy is under attack -- from corporations, from socialist presidents, from religious zealots, from libertarian zombie economists and on and on.

All of which is proof that our democracy, for all of its real (and imagined) flaws is
intact. Alive and kicking. But how often do stop to revel in the messy, muddled glory
that is the rule of the people?

Well, here in Portland, OR, we've decided it's time. Time to crack a cold one, kick out
the jams, and celebrate our right to self-determination. And so we present Rebooting
Democracy 2012
-- the first Democracy Festival the US has ever seen.

It's like Coachella for politicos or a TED talk for artsy types. We're bringing a fresh take to the old routine of a political conference -- opening up its panel discussions, policy workshops and progressive presentations to Portlanders of all stripes, and blowing it out to include concerts, film screenings, comedy shows, and interactive multimedia extravaganzas.

Through events like Political Science Theater 3000 and Candidates Gone Wild, we'll
take the stuffiest, wonkiest of political activities -- debate and analysis -- and give 'em a
little millennial spit, polish & shine. And our political conference's policy workshops and
panel discussions will, yes, address ways to achieve tuition equity and adapt to ongoing
climate change, but they'll also tackle the state's zombie apocalypse readiness and
efforts to achieve better democracy through technology and design.

Along the way, we'll host a comedy show for the 99% by Seattle's Laughter Against the
Machine, an ultramodern disco hoedown with nine-piece funk machines Ancient Heat,
and a screening of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning documentary The

We won't have solved all the country's problems at the end of the week. Or even the
state's. But we will have had fun, and maybe come up with a few new approaches to
the historic problems our country faces. We will have unleashed new voices and
connected everyday Oregonians with the levers of power. And, if all goes to plan, at
least a few hundred zealous hipsters will know how to use government Twitter feeds to
disrupt hungry zombie hordes. And really, isn't that what democracy is for?