Blogs

Presented by The Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

Bridge Alliance members can email blog posts to Jeremy@BridgeAllianceFund.us


History Repeats: A New Era of Reform May Model the Old

Posted by Unite America on January 12, 2021

By Beth Hladick. Reposted from UniteAmerica.org.

America emerges from the 2020 election as polarized as ever before. Divided government may offer opportunities for bipartisan policymaking, but is more likely to devolve to partisan gridlock. Yet, we’ve been here before and have emerged stronger from it. 

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Danger in demagoguery, hope in collaboration

Posted by Debilyn Molineaux on January 07, 2021

January 6, 2021 is Statement_BA_Social_Media__1.pnga day that will live in infamy.

The Capitol Building of the United States, for the first time in our lifetimes, was attacked and overrun by violent extremists during the ceremonial counting of the Electoral College’s votes to certify Joseph R. Biden’s victory in the 2020 Presidential election. As the nation watched, many of us feared that the very foundations of our democratic republic were in peril.

Many Americans want  things to return to “normal,” but democracy is not a spectator sport. We the People are responsible for upholding the freedoms that define who we are as citizens of the United States. 

We must invest our time individually and with one another to thwart the demagoguery that has overshadowed our nation, fueled by our adversaries with disinformation and conspiracies. We must strengthen our resolve to heal the wounds and bridge the divides that separate us. 

The Bridge Alliance is dedicated to bridging the many divides that separate us by finding common ground, building understanding, and healing the wounds that have ripped us apart. You can find organizations doing so here.  

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12 numbers to know about the money in the 2020 presidential election

Posted by Issue One on December 29, 2020

By Amisa Ratliff, Research Associate. Reposted from IssueOne.org.

Staggering sums of money were injected into the 2020 presidential race. 

Here are some of the most critical numbers to know about the money spent by the presidential candidates, and their allies, according to an Issue One analysis of campaign finance reports.

$4.9 billion: The total amount of money that was spent by all candidates and outside groups during the 2020 presidential election — the equivalent of about $22 per voter

$2.74 billion: The total amount of money that was spent by the campaigns of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as by outside groups supporting them during the general election. Biden and his allies controlled about 61% of this sum ($1.68 billion), while Trump and his allies controlled about 39% ($1.06 billion).

$1.7 billion: The total amount of money spent by the Trump and Biden campaigns. Biden’s campaign alone spent about $1.01 billion, while Trump’s campaign spent about $710 million. In other words, Biden’s campaign spent nearly $1.50 for every $1 Trump’s did.

$1.02 billion: The total amount of money spent in the general election by outside group allies of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Pro-Biden outside groups together spent about $668 million, while pro-Trump outside groups spent about $349 million. In other words, pro-Biden groups spent nearly $2 for every $1 spent by pro-Trump groups.

$820,600: The total amount of money a single individual donor was able to donate this year to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that benefited Trump’s presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee, and Republican parties in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

$830,600: The total amount of money a single individual donor was able to donate this year to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that benefited Biden’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Democratic parties in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

$82 million: The minimum amount of money that President-elect Joe Biden’s bundlers raised for his campaign, according to a voluntary disclosure that showed more than 800 individuals raised at least $100,000 to support Biden’s candidacy. Some bundlers each raised millions of dollars, so the actual total is likely far higher than the voluntary disclosure indicates. President Donald Trump did not voluntarily release any information about the more than 3,000 people who reportedly raised money for his reelection effort. Under both Democratic and Republican presidents, bundlers have been rewarded with plum positions, such as ambassadorships and positions on commissions.

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Opportunities for Bipartisanship in a Divided Government

Posted by Bridge Alliance Education Fund on December 15, 2020

Reposted from: CFRB.org

In 2021, the United States is likely to operate with divided or near-divided government. Democrats are slated to control the White House and the House of Representatives, while the Senate will either be under Republican control or equally split between Republicans and Democrats.1

Given this makeup, it is unlikely President-elect Joe Biden will be able to enact the entirety of his ambitious agenda of tax and spending increases. However, divided government does not mean legislating should stop. There are many issue areas where Republicans and Democrats have made similar proposals, which could present opportunities for bipartisanship.

From a fiscal and budgetary perspective, policymakers from both parties should be able to find common ground in several areas, including enacting COVID relief, lowering health care costs, improving tax compliance, reforming the budget process, and preparing for the insolvency of major trust funds.

Provide COVID Relief

Neither the COVID pandemic nor its negative effects on the economy are likely to be over by the time President-elect Biden takes office on January 20, 2021. Both Democrats and Republicans have put forward proposals to provide assistance to struggling households and businesses, support an economic recovery, and manage the public health situation. Hopefully, this is an area where policymakers can compromise, either now or in 2021.

The parties appear to have narrowed their differences somewhat from when House Democrats introduced and passed the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act and Senate Republicans put forward the roughly $1 trillion HEALS Act (see our comparison). A bipartisan package would likely include some extension and partial restoration of expanded unemployment insurance benefits, support for small businesses, aid to state and local governments and school districts, financial support for COVID testing, treatment, and vaccination, and other measures.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates an output gap of roughly $900 billion in 2021 – though it is likely to be smaller in light of recent economic news. That output gap represents the economic slack policymakers could try to fill with further fiscal support, though some policies are more cost-effective than others.

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Don’t Let an Election Destroy Your Humanity

Posted by Free the People on December 02, 2020

By Rory Margraf. Reposted from FreeThePeople.org.

While the media has made the call and numerous lawsuits, challenges, and conspiracies loom in the ether, the only thing it seems we can do is fester in our own anxiety. The American staple of the grumpy uncle stirring the political pot at Thanksgiving dinner is appearing to be less of a humorous tradition and more of a runaway freight train that will collide with our sensibilities around the second trip to the carving table. And yet, the world still turns.

Since I awoke on election day, a familiar quote has been rattling around in my mind. On April 22, 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to William Hamilton. In the letter, Jefferson acknowledged the several years since they last crossed paths (John Adams’ Inauguration, 1797) and apologized for failing to remain in contact.

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Tips for Keeping Control of Difficult Conversations in Virtual Classrooms

Posted by iCivics on November 17, 2020

Reposted from iCivics.org 

 NOVEMBER 05, 2020

While remote learning has presented educators with many challenges, one unique hurdle has been figuring out how to keep control of student conversations on tough or timely topics. Virtual classrooms have made it much harder to maintain respectful, engaged dialogue when students are not physically in the room together or abiding by typical in-person classroom rules or norms.

To provide you with tools and strategies for keeping control of difficult conversations in virtual classrooms, we recently partnered with Share My Lesson on a free webinar to provide tips. If you missed it, you can watch the full recording, access our free videos and guides for teaching controversial issues, and explore the highlights below:

Laying the Groundwork
Teaching controversial issues should not occur "off the cuff". Successful discussions require preparation and the use of thoughtfully selected teaching strategies. In the preparation process, you should clarify your goals for having these discussions and the skills you want students to gain. This can help you better communicate with families, administrators, and other stakeholders about your plans. And teaching strategies create structure and a procedure to follow, which will help you maintain effective classroom management. They also require the use of texts that ground students' arguments in facts.

 

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Post-Election Depolarization May Come from Surprising Places: An Initiative from Hollywood’s Captain America

Posted by AllSides on November 13, 2020

By Sukhayl Niyazov, independent author and volunteer at Braver Angels. Reposted from: AllSides.com

Hollywood has long had a strongly liberal reputation. But as America looks to heal from a divisive election, opportunities for depolarization may come from surprising places, including Hollywood. A recent project spearheaded in part by Chris Evans, the star who plays Captain America, is seeking to reduce political division.

Evans recently announced the founding of A Starting Point, a bipartisan civic engagement platform featuring a database of short videos. It kicked off in July of this year. In these videos, elected officials from all sides of the political spectrum explain their views on a variety of issues: from healthcare and the economy to social justice and foreign policy. The aim of the website is to “create a little more connectivity” between politicians and citizens.

Evans strongly supports this effort while also publicly showing his support for Joe Biden. He said in a video on Twitter, “an engaged electorate will create a government [that] more accurately reflects who we are and what we need.”

A Starting Point intends to improve the state of U.S. political discourse by exposing Americans to diverse voices in a non-partisan way. Politicians are able to clearly articulate their views and encourage constituents to become more engaged in politics. Ideally, this bridges gaps between politicians and their constituents, and between Republicans and Democrats.

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To My Fellow Americans, from a Humble Member of Braver Angels

Posted by Luke Phillips on November 03, 2020

Reposted from BraverAngels.org 

We cannot know the future. But we do know where we are, and what we’ve endured; and it grows increasingly evident that our times of great rancor, great anguish, and great malice will very likely only worsen after Election Day 2020. We will see rancor, anguish, and malice in each other; we will know it in ourselves.

And all for good reason; for much is now at stake. Our communities and our principles, our rights and our heritage, the most vulnerable among us, our system of government and our trust in each other, all are threatened in this election as never before in our lifetimes. The rage, the fear, the hate we feel, arise for the best of reasons—out of love. Our love for our way of life, our love for the things and people we’ve held dear, and a noble desire to protect those things from all who would endanger them.

And so, let us act in love on Election Day; let us argue and campaign and vote for what we love.

But whatever the outcome of the election—whether our candidate or party loses or wins, whether there’s a long stalemate and uncertainty, or worse, whether we enter some uncharted constitutional crisis, should that come—whatever the election’s outcome, and regardless of its implications, and what rage and fear and hate they might inspire in us, let us continue to act in love. So let us pledge to act in love beyond Election Day. Let us act in love, onward to Inauguration Day, throughout the next presidential term, and onward into our country’s uncertain future.

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How to Bring Mindfulness into Politics

Posted by IssueVoter on October 22, 2020

By Shahreen Hossain of IssueVoter. Reposted from IssueVoter.org.

A non-cliché guide to bringing wellness into the political sphere.

What is this often-used term “mindfulness”?

It is the ability to fully be present and engaged in any given moment. Studies have shown mindfulness lowers ruminative thinking, reduces stress, and lessens emotional reactivity while it boosts memory and focus.

The etymology of the word “political” comes from polis, which is a community. As Aristotle framed it, human beings are political animals. It means each of us belongs to communities and together we aspire to make the world a better place.

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”-Aristotle

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America’s Lost Voices

Posted by Sara Miller on October 07, 2020

The turmoil that coronavirus has exacerbated is shining a spotlight on previously under-discussed topics such as race, inequality, and the criminal justice system. Yet, a critical source of systemic inequality is still not getting attention -- the fundamentally unfair practice of prison gerrymandering. 

There are several clear patterns in the prison population. First, it is disproportionately people of color. As of 2017, over 60% of individuals in prison were people of color. Black men are 6 times more likely and hispanic men are 2.7 times to be incarcerated as white men. In that same vein, black and hispanic women make up 60-67% of the female prison population. 

Another important aspect to note about the prison population is their socioeconomic status. Incarcerated people of all genders, races, and ethnicities earn much less prior to imprisonment than their non-incarcerated counterparts. In fact, the American inmate population is dramatically concentrated at the lowest ends of the national income distribution. Finally, prisoners suffer from high rates of coronavirus, mental illness, addiction problems, histories of abuse, and the list goes on. 

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