Daily Resource Highlight - 04/18/2022

Posted by on April 18, 2022 at 3:40 PM

Below are the highlights and featured resources of this past week’s Daily* Resource.

April 12, 2022 - Removing Politics from Elections? Yes, Take The Pledge.

Back in 1947, Winston Churchill famously said “[D]emocracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” America is not a pure democracy, but democratic institutions (i.e. voting) are the foundation of our country and keep it functioning.

That’s why it’s alarming to see more and more Americans showing openness to undemocratic forms of government. But how do we reverse this trend? Part of the equation, we believe, is ensuring that all Americans understand civics. That’s why the Bridge Alliance is proud to co-host “Civic Education: An Effective Way to Strengthen Our Democracy” this Thursday @ 2 PM ET. This panel discussion, which is being led by Business for America and iCivics, will highlight the bipartisan Civics Secure Democracy (CSD) Act as a possible way to expand American civics education. Be sure to sign up asap!

Separately, but also important, is the work being done by Team Democracy (TD) to restore trust in elections. TD is encouraging citizens, candidates, and organizations alike to sign its nonpartisan “Safe and Fair Elections Pledge.” The Pledge does not tell people how to vote or even how to conduct elections. Instead, it’s an effort to get back to basics – fairly administered elections that allow voters to vote; give people the right to challenge irregularities; and then require all candidates to accept the final results.

The Pledge also doesn’t say our election systems are perfect. As I mentioned last week, Election Reformers Network just published a report with ideas on how to make elections less partisan. Additionally, Public Agenda recently released a series of case studies on how democracy is done in other countries. The reports focus on encouraging citizen engagement and building strong communities.

In other words, we can commit ourselves to supporting American democracy (including and especially when our favored candidates lose) while also asking “how can we do better?”

April 14, 2022 - Haidt Says We Need Authentic Connections: We Agree, at ALL Levels

A few days ago, Jonathan Haidt wrote an article about the social splintering of America, and he mentioned ourselves, BridgeUSA, and Braver Angels as three organizations trying to reverse those damaging trends. Following the article, we saw hundreds of new email signups. You may be reading this newsletter for the first time because of Haidt’s article. If so, welcome! 

We are very eager to deliver. In fact, we have an awards show dedicated to success through collaboration. It’s called the Civvys, and we strongly encourage you to nominate your favorite organization who is making an impact through collaboration. The deadline is April 18th.

We also have a number of organizations (beyond BridgeUSA and Braver Angels) that are dedicated to fostering authentic relationships, whether you’re an everyday American, an aspiring leader, or even a member of Congress. These are just a small sampling of them:

Citizen University just published a trove of data about the state of our democracy. There are reasons for concerns (of course), but we also know what works for building trust and community. They also recently published a hopeful article on how to take care of your mental health as a citizen.

Renew America Together wants to invite you to apply for its Civility Leadership Institute. This program will help you grow your leadership abilities, as well as connect you with extraordinary citizens that include mayors, nonprofit leaders, law enforcement, business leaders, and more. You will also work with General Wesley Clark. Applications are due May 1st.

Congressional Management Foundation wants to help enable “Effective Citizen Deliberation” with our representatives in Congress. This goes beyond town halls and surveys, which “engage those who are already engaged.” Instead, CMF is challenging representatives to invite engagement that meet five criteria: inclusion, informed justification, good reason-giving, promoting legitimacy, and scalability. CMF also has suggestions on how members of Congress can “Provide Additional and Diverse Avenues for Public Participation.”

Finally, Haidt’s article mentions the fracturing of language in America. About how “[w]e are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth,” Here too, the Bridge Alliance has a number of organizations trying to repair those fissures. They include AllSides, which publishes articles showing various perspectives on current events. There’s also the Narratives Project, which recently discussed why they use the “left / right” viewpoint dichotomy even though American discourse is vastly more complex.