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Presented by The Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

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


Leadership in Crisis

Posted by David Nevins on September 27, 2016 at 4:48 PM

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 at 11:06 AM

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 at 10:29 AM

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 at 6:50 PM

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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Hamilton and the Transpartisan Movement.

Posted by Jelmarie Maldonado on April 23, 2016 at 1:32 PM

Hamilton.pngYou may have heard of a little-known play, Hamilton: An American Musical. It has won several major awards, from a Grammy to- most recently a Pulitzer for best drama. There is no doubt of Hamilton's status as a juggernaut. Sold out until 2017, many critics are calling it the 'best play you will ever see.' On Wednesday, April 13th, I saw for myself why this show is unlike anything you'll ever get to experience. Hamilton is a hip hop musical about the youngest founding father, Alexander Hamilton. If that sounds odd to you, you are not alone. The story of how Hamilton came to be is full of twist and turns. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer of Hamilton, first rapped the title song of the show (or what then was supposed to be a mixtape) at the White House in front of Barack and Michelle Obama. "I'm going to perform a piece of someone I think embodies hip hop, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton." Everyone laughed at the absurdity, but by the end of the song, President Obama and the rest of the audience gave Lin-Manuel a standing ovation. The word 'unlikely' essentially sums up the beast that Hamilton has become. It made America's early history relevant to a younger generation. Founding fathers are now cool. Unlikeliest of all, it has brought together people from all background, from the poor to the rich, from the young to the old, from the east to the west, and from Democrats to Republicans. President Obama even joked that Hamilton might be the only thing that Dick Cheney and he can agree on.

 

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My First (Almost) Caucus

Posted by Rebecca Nunziato on March 01, 2016 at 11:45 PM

Screen_Shot_2016-03-02_at_2.59.00_PM.pngIt was a beautiful sight - hundreds of people pouring in from my neighborhood. Families, young professionals, the grey hairs, couples, friends and strangers all walking into a central location. The line snaked around the block - TWICE. I laughed along with my new queue acquaintances as newcomers walked up, shocked at the amount of people they would sigh and exclaim, “wow, should have come earlier!” or “where the heck is the end of the line?!” It was amusing and magical, I have never minded a line less in my life. After all, in our modern society it is rare that neighbors congregate. Most of us commute to work, enter and leave our homes from behind a garage door and even shop for churches unrestricted by walking distance. Consequently very few of us know our neighbors or attend community gatherings where we experience what our “precinct” actually looks and feels like.

Yes, it was magical. But when I got to the doorway (after standing in line for an hour, talking with my new friends about my work with the Bridge Alliance and my research and editing for a book published today (The Reunited States of America)) I had to turn around.

It was my first almost caucus.

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Curiosity Unbound: Song of the Angels

Posted by Parisa Parsa on January 15, 2016 at 8:53 PM

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President Obama’s tears during his speech on gun control last week made a big splash in the media circuit. As he spoke of the first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012, his speech faltered and cheeks dampened. Those tears, and everything behind them, are presumably the foundation for the policy reforms he proposes to put into place via Executive Order, which he implores Congress not to impede.

There have been countless causes for tears in recent months. Lives lost to brutal and capricious violence have made the headlines almost too often to tally, both here and abroad. With each news cycle we move with more speed toward and cling with increasing rigidity to what we think is “to blame”: gun laws, mental health services, economic despair, immigrants, Islam, Christianity, government overreach or incompetence, police brutality. And we rail for or against whatever laws or policies we think are needed to fend off the discomfort of vulnerability. We just want it to stop.

We barely let the tears fall before wiping them away with our preferred stance of outrage. The blinders close in. The others who bear the fault become one-dimensional, naïve, backward, hateful. The less we see each other, the more intractable the problems become. And the next time the tears come faster, the walls draw in closer, the finger is pointed that much more sharply.

As Obama’s tears fell, speculation about their authenticity and criticism of what some saw as a sign of weakness flowed freely. Our assessments shift depending on how much the ideology of the people in the spotlight reflect our own.

The tallies of the last year, good, bad, ugly, have flown past us in lists and resolutions. The calendar page has turned and once again we learn that it takes more than the passage of time to make us new, to change us and our world.

Now it is time to take a deep breath. To pause in wonder.

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A Knight on a White Horse?

Posted by Mark Gerzon on January 07, 2016 at 12:23 PM

knights.jpgNow that we have entered 2016, we can count on two certainties: a national election and more terrorism. So it is no surprise that every candidate claims that he — or she — is the knight on a white horse who will save us from ISIS. But as every military strategist since Sun Tzu knows, they are missing the crucial element in self-defense. If we don’t address this vital ingredient in a national security strategy, our ruthless, many-headed terrorist enemies will find our country to be easy prey.

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Conversation Starter: Dialogue Across Political Differences

Posted by Jessica Weaver on November 03, 2015 at 7:04 PM

Phil Neisser teaches political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences. Jacob Hess is an educator and nonprofit leader passionate about mental health awareness and mindfulness. Apart, impressive. Together, unstoppable. Phil, a staunch atheist and leftist, and Jacob Hess, a Christian conservative, started a conversation about the effects of ugly partisanship destroying any prospect for civil conversations about the issues that mattered. That conversation launched a genuine, respectful, and sustained dialogue about their respective values, beliefs, and concerns for the future, covering tough topics including same-sex marriage, power, government, media, religion, morality, race, and more.

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Millennial: Neither Republican nor Democrat

Posted by Rebecca Nunziato on October 08, 2015 at 3:46 PM

As a Christian, the Republicans assume they can win my vote; as a Latina woman, granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, the Democrats think they can count on me. They are both wrong.

Like so many of my generation, I am living evidence that the red-vs-blue portrait is severely distorted. I see a technicolor, complex and challenging reality and neither party’s monochromatic platform has won me over.

Smackdab in the center of the millennial generation, born in the early 90’s, I live a life much like many of my peers – a life of multitasking, technology, self-expression and open-mindedness. When it comes to political and civic engagement, however, we millennials often opt for community service and Silicon Valley over D.C. and traditional left-right politics.[1]

 

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