Presented by The Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

The views expressed in blog posts are strictly those of the author and do not represent the views of the Bridge Alliance or its affiliates.

How to Build a Revitalized Political Center

Posted by Steve McIntosh on December 12, 2016

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 Thom Little on December 08, 2016

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 Thom Little on December 01, 2016

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

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


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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The Process of Change - Part I

Posted by Debilyn Molineaux on September 27, 2016

Our country is in crisis.  

Divisions and factions appear everywhere we look. We are slicing and dicing ourselves into homogenous -- some say tribal -- groups where our thinking is validated and the “other” is increasingly demonized, dehumanized and assessed with evil intentions.

And it’s all happening on schedule.

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Leadership in Crisis

Posted by David Nevins on September 27, 2016

leadership-crisis.jpgWe are witnessing the most dysfunctional campaign for the presidency in our lifetime.  Does anyone really believe that despite the promises by all candidates that they will solve our problems that the real solutions to our nation’s problems will actually result?  Unlikely. 

As so often happens after presidential elections the media overplays the importance of the outcome in determining the direction our country will go.  More often than not our national elections merely validate a leadership process that is systemically flawed.   

The Bridge Alliance believes the citizens of the United States deserve more.  Effective leadership on all sides of the political spectrum is sorely lacking and most change.

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How To Bridge the Gap Between Political Parties

Posted by James Hoffmann on September 12, 2016

In our republic, we have two processes: electing our representatives, and governing the nation through them. These are two very different things.

Electing representatives through the campaign process sets the two major parties against each other. They act like they are at war. They tend to demonize the other side. They tend to act like they alone are right while the other side is totally wrong.

When the election is over, the time for governing the country begins. The election has given one party some level of control, but it is usually small. And even when one party wins the Presidency, and has majorities in both the Senate and House, the other party in the Senate can stop any legislation by requiring a 60 vote majority, instead of a 51 vote majority, to move it forward. While this prevents the majority from doing whatever it likes and from running amuck, it also slows down getting things done in Congress.


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Why Congress’s Move to Delay the IRS Muzzle Rule Another Year Is Not All Good News

Posted by Jason Casella on July 29, 2016

The draft of the House of Representatives’ financial-services appropriations bill contains language very similar to what was passed last year to defund the IRS from implementing the nonprofit muzzle rule. If enforced, the rule would harm the nonprofit community by curtailing their First Amendment right to speech and creating legal exposure for accidentally violating these new draconian limits.

It’s well and good that the IRS will be prohibited another year from carrying out this rule, but unfortunately this bill leaves the door open for the IRS to move forward with their mandate the following year. Nobody knows which party will control the White House or either chamber of Congress next year, and party leadership might change as well.

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Leadership: A Lost Skill That Must Be Relearned

Posted by David Nevins on June 10, 2016

partisanship1-610x489.jpgLike so many other Americans, I too have become frustrated with the unbridled lack of civility, crippling partisanship and dysfunctional gridlock that prevents our country from solving the serious problems we face on a daily basis.

Yet despite the demagoguery and rampant dysfunction that is so prevalent in today’s political process, I believe a unique opportunity exists to create a political movement based on civil discourse and critical thinking.

There is a historical shift underway in our political landscape, evidenced by events in both parties, from Democratic party leadership being booed at a rally of 11,000 Bernie Sander’s supporters at a rally in Oregon, and the turmoil which ensued at the Nevada State Party convention, to the Republican party grappling with the impending Donald Trump nomination. More and more Americans disavow themselves from the two party system. A January 2016 Gallup poll confirmed that 42% of adults identified as independents, less than 30% as both Democrats and Republicans, a proof point that Americans are tired of politics as usual and desire something different.


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