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Don't Know Much About Civics: 93% of U.S. Adults Believe Civics Education Should be Bolstered in Public Schools

Posted by Jacel Egan on April 20, 2017 at 4:18 PM

By Jacel Egan, Marketing Communications Manager, icitizen

According to a new icitizen survey released by Sen. Chuck Riley (OR-15), more than nine in 10 Americans believe that more emphasis should be placed on civics education in public schools.

“We’re living in a time now where it’s hard to tell the difference between fake news and real news, and alternative facts are being presented as truth,” said Oregon Sen. Chuck Riley. “It’s clear constituents want to address this issue head on, and as an elected official, I’m obligated to do what I can to help future generations be prepared and informed citizens.”

The poll of 1,245 U.S. adults showed fully 84% of respondents support requiring high school students to pass a proficiency test in civics in order to earn their diploma (10% oppose, 6% unsure). This crosses age, gender, and party lines, and actually increases with age: support is at 74% among millennials and reaching upwards of 95% support among seniors ages 65 and older.

Taking the requirement further, almost a three-fourths (74%) of Americans support requiring high school students to take and pass the U.S. citizenship test to demonstrate civic proficiency (21% oppose, 5% unsure). The strongest opponent of this requirement are racial minorities; about a third expressed their disapproval (34%).

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Liberal Democracy Is Too Limited in the Era of the On-Demand Economy

Posted by Matt Leighninger on March 01, 2017 at 2:59 PM

Any Successful Government Must Consider Not Only What Citizens Want, but What They Can Contribute

In the 20th century, the legitimacy of governments was based almost solely on the rule of law and the right to vote.

In the democratic upheaval of the 21st century, citizens still want the protection of laws and the ability to choose representatives, but those powers may no longer be enough to make government legitimate in the eyes of the people. In the future, governments may rise or fall depending on whether they give citizens meaningful roles in decision-making, problem-solving, and community-building.

Changes in democracy are occurring now because of tectonic shifts in the relationship between citizens and government. As a population, we are better educated than ever before. We are not as deferential to expertise and authority as we once were. And we are networked through the internet to an almost infinite number of potential connections and sources of information. In other words, the people have more capacity. The question of whether governments, civil society, and other institutions can develop the ability to unleash that capacity underlies most of the public problems we face.

This new reality of rising citizen capacity makes some public servants uncomfortable. Trapped in systems designed to protect their expertise, besieged by people who no longer believe their data or respect their authority, and faced with hostile constituents at public events, public officials are understandably skeptical about the virtues, capabilities, and good sense of their fellow men and women.

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The Middle Ground Needs More Than Moderates

Posted by Erik Fogg on February 17, 2017 at 2:48 PM

PP_16.05.17_antipathy_afraid_angry_frustrated_overview.png

 In our mission to "rebuild the middle ground" of United States politics, we are obviously fighting a losing battle. Pew lays out a pretty horrid landscape--and that was before the election. The left and right hate hate hate each other, and they may be caught in a downward spiral of distrust that tears the country apart.

If there's any hope to be had from this particular strategy, the middle ground needs to identify who's in it, and find each other--and fast.

The whole hypothesis of Wedged is that the cycle of mistrust is built on fairly reasonable people from each side buying into the idea that everyone on the other side of the political spectrum is a nutjob--where the nutjobs in fact represent a loud-but-small minority.

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Clinton played Pictionary. Trump played Risk.

Posted by Debilyn Molineaux on January 23, 2017 at 12:25 PM

By Debilyn Molineaux. 

I like to describe our country as “the big, raucous American family.” And there is hardly a better opportunity to build family connections than with games. Or a more revealing way to understand each other and ourselves, than by the tactics we use within the game.

My dad used to slip Monopoly money to my sister, because he couldn’t stand to see anyone ‘lose’. Our neighbor was outraged that my dad wouldn’t follow the rules of the game. Another card game we played with friends, ‘Nertz’ has a shared playing field and a private one... I was outraged when one of our friends refused to play in the shared field because it would benefit our team. He was in it to win...no holds barred. As you may imagine, I am accustomed to more coopetition than winner-take-all. (Thanks, Dad!) I learned much about people from playing games with them...and also tapped into my own hyper-competitive side on occasion.

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Invest America Fund and Bridge Alliance Collaboration

Posted by Kahlil Byrd on December 15, 2016 at 11:49 AM

The Bridge Alliance is proud to announce an investment strategic partnership between the Bridge Alliance and Invest America Fund. 

The Bridge Alliance recently announced a $300,000 grant program to Bridge Alliance members who best qualify for investment funds based on the strength of their collaborative programs.  A fundamental tenet that drives the Bridge Alliance strategy is the conviction that for significant political transformation to occur, a network must be established to build a shared identity, raise visibility, strengthen and expand the numbers of organizations and individuals dedicated to collaborative civic problem solving and collaborative public policy innovation. The funding of collective impact programs will drive this process. 

Invest America has just launched it’s first national fund focused on bipartisan and nonpartisan policy reform and transformation.  The fund provides seed financing and grants to the emerging community of political entrepreneurs whose core mission is to solve our toughest national problems.

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How to Build a Revitalized Political Center

Posted by Steve McIntosh on December 12, 2016 at 11:55 AM

Note: This Op-Ed responds to New York Times columnist David Brooks’ recent writing about the future of political centrism. The piece was originally published by The Hill, a Washington-based policy journal. It’s reposted here with permission.

In the wake of the 2016 election, analysts and pundits are now focusing on how Donald Trump’s ascent to power will recalibrate the ideological center of American politics. In a recent New York Times op-ed titled “The Future of the American Center,” David Brooks calls for a movement that will “deepen a positive national vision that is not merely a positioning between left and right.” Yet while Brooks’ program sounds appealing, the moderate media establishment’s conception of centrism lacks the cultural foundations necessary to build a viable political movement. Although political centrism seems reasonable and pragmatic, it has consistently failed to create an effective constituency. Despite the large number of voters who now register as independent, most reliably lean to one side or the other, and are actually more partisan than the least engaged members of either the Democratic or Republican parties.

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I Don’t Want to Bust Your Bubble….Or Maybe I Do!

Posted by Thomas Little on December 08, 2016 at 2:31 PM

filter-bubble.jpgA couple of months ago, I posted a blog called “E Pluribus Unum,” in which I described how participants in SLLF’s Emerging Leaders Program were able to set aside partisan and ideological differences to form a cooperative and cohesive unit. As I have watched this year’s campaigns become increasingly bitter and divisive and read that policy makers and the public seem more divided than ever, I have been trying to figure out what made this group of 50 legislators from across the country defy current trends and knock down the walls that separate so many of their colleagues and constituents. 

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E Pluribus Unum

Posted by Thomas Little on December 01, 2016 at 2:33 PM

e_pluribus_unum.jpgE Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. America’s unofficial motto. It is on the Great Seal of the United States and the back of the quarter. It has been used for generations to describe the country, referring to the belief that many nationalities, religions and races become one to form America. However, of late it seems more of a motto than a reality as we seem divided by many things, including party, ideology, ethnicity and race. However, I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the realization of this motto at the SLLF Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. 

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The Process of Change - Part III

Posted by Debilyn Molineaux on October 03, 2016 at 7:14 PM


Our Imminent Change

In Part I we explored the cycle of change and in Part II, we reviewed the predictable factions or roles. But what can we learn from this historical view?  Is it possible to move through this Crisis without a major or total war? Do we need to suffer as we grow?  History would suggest yes. But there is also another choice. And we can also take comfort that after this period of crisis, we will emerge in a largely peaceful era.

A religious friend observed a few years ago that we acknowledge the pending social change through our stories of the future we tell each other. On one hand, the warming of oceans and changing climate conditions seem as though our planet will “die” which is to say, become uninhabitable for humans.  On the other, there is a story that “end times” are near and the second coming of Christ will happen any day. Some people are looking forward to 1000 years of heaven on earth following Armageddon.

We all know that change is coming.

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The Process of Change - Part II

Posted by Debilyn Molineaux on September 30, 2016 at 6:29 PM

 

Part II - The Factions of Change

In Part I The Cycle of Change, we explored the documented way culture has progressed through 500 years of Anglo-American history, as outlined in The Fourth Turning, by William Strauss and Neil Howe.  The 80 (or so) year cycle, or saeculum, includes four turnings:

  1. High
  2. Awakening
  3. Unraveling
  4. Crisis

We entered the fourth turning, the crisis period, in 2008 with the financial crisis and “Great Recession”. Now we will explore the factions and their relationship with each other that demand and resist progress or social change.

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