Daily Resource Highlight - 3/21/2022
Posted by on March 21, 2022 at 2:12 PM
Below are the highlights and featured resources of this past week’s Daily* Resource.
March 15, 2022 - What Kind of Policy Does Electoral Pressure Produce?
Back in 2013, the Daily Show’s John Oliver interviewed an aide to former Senator Harry Reid. He asked, “What makes a politician successful?” The aide responded, “Getting reelected by his or her constituents.” John was – understandably – shocked by that answer and, after an awkward exchange, the now sheepish aide admitted that they should have said “passing legislation” first.
That interview has stuck with me for obvious reasons. But what are the policy implications of that “get (re)elected” mindset? I don’t think they are necessarily bad – don’t we want our representatives to care about our preferences? That said, we know that most members of Congress are effectively elected during the primary season (Unite America). And in many states, legislatures have passed “extreme gerrymanders” that all but assure one party’s grip on power (Issue One), which only add to the importance of the primaries.
This dynamic means that the audience for election-driven policy is primary voters, and that makes me nervous when the resulting policy can have far-reaching implications. For instance, are primary election concerns behind the recent push to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (Our Civic Genius)? (Section 230 protects social media companies from liability for content posted on their platforms)
As we gear up for the 2022 Midterms (ActiVote), I encourage you to think about the goals of your representatives. Was Reid’s aide correct that the ultimate mission is reelection? And if that’s true, are you OK with that? If your answer is “no,” would your opinion change if general elections were more competitive?
Also remember that it’s not just lawmakers that are campaigning. Law enforcers are also running for office this Fall, with more than half the States holding elections for Attorney General (Virginia Center for Politics). How these future AGs choose to enforce (or not enforce) the law could have significant consequences, so it’s worth considering their incentives as well.
March 17, 2022 - It’s OK To Be Angry, But Public Servants Don’t Deserve Our Ire
When it comes to the government, we have a lot to be angry about. It’s why, despite my strong interest in politics and current events, I’ve stopped watching the news, and am very selective in what I read and what I listen to. Everything is borderline triggering.
But my anger turns to sympathy when I think about the millions of people working behind the scenes to keep our country functioning. Come election season, there will be thousands of election officials across the country who will be doing their best to ensure our votes are counted. These people are your neighbors (Issue One podcast) and deserve our respect.
Between elections, it’s the same situation. Congressional Management Foundation has published a multi-part blog series on how Congress needs to foster trust; embrace First Amendment rights; aggregate and analyze data from diverse sources; etc. If Congress implements CMF’s recommendations, most of the work will be done by underpaid staffers who are working long hours.
The same is true at the local level where, as shown by this report on Palm Beach County collaborations by Everyday Democracy, most public officials – including law enforcement – want to do a good job. And that report shows the lengths many will go to in order to improve their community.
Again, there’s a lot to be angry about. As discussed on the How Do We Fix It podcast, politicians are using gerrymandering to ensure their reelection is a given (Issue One report). Meanwhile, party officials from both parties are trying to nip popular electoral reforms in the bud (in this case RCV).
However, these legitimate frustrations with our elected officials, along with many understandable others, cannot be used as an excuse to mistreat public servants. Aside from the moral imperative to treat our fellow humans well, there’s also a practical imperative. If accepting a job in the public sector means also accepting significant abuse, the best and brightest among us simply won’t take those jobs. And that – in the long run – can only harm our great nation.
- ActiVote (blog) Feb 25th: The 2022 Midterms
- AllSides (blog) Mar 14th: When Rooting for Ukraine Gets Harder
- American Democracy Project (newsletter) Feb 28th: ADP Connect: February 2022
- Civics Unplugged (form) due Mar 18th: Climate Innovators Fellowship Application
- Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (blog) Mar 14th: Time to Wind Down Remaining COVID Relief
- Congressional Management Foundation (blog) Mar 11th: Principle 3: Congress Must Robustly Collect, Aggregate, and Analyze Meaningful Knowledge from Diverse Sources
- Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, Civic Genius (video) Mar 3rd: Information, Misinformation, Disinformation and Truth: What's at Stake?
- Congressional Management Foundation (blog) Mar 9th: Congress is slow to embrace new technology
- Congressional Management Foundation (blog) Mar 8th: Are You a Threat to Democracy?
- Divided We Fall (blog) Feb 24th: Book Review: Repairing Our Divided Nation
- Divided We Fall (article) Mar 10th: Equity vs. Equality: A Political Rorschach Test
- Essential Partners (article ) Mar 11th: Op/Ed: Let’s Build Trust Instead of Banning Books
- FairVote (blog) Mar 8th: International Women’s Day and Proportional Representation
- Independent Voter Project (blog) Mar 10th: Believe It or Not, Some CA Dems and FL Republicans Agree on Something: Banning Ranked Choice Voting
- Interactivity Foundation (blog) Mar 3rd: Just Imagine…Battlefield Nursing
- Junior State of America (newsletter) Feb 28th: Educator Newsletter
- Leadership Now Project (newsletter) Mar 13th: Stay Awake #54: The Fight for Democracy in Ukraine and Around the Globe
- Listen First Project (video) Mar 12th: #ListenFirst Friday Mónica Guzmán
- National Civic League (blog) Feb 28th: Social Determinants of Health: Success starts with communities, not healthcare workers
- National Foundation for Women Legislators (newsletter) Mar 4th: February 2022 Newsletter
- The Narratives Project (blog) Mar 8th: Views on the US banning Russian energy imports
- Narratives Project (article) Mar 11th: Strategic Melodrama in the Ukraine Conflict
- Nonprofit Vote (blog) Mar 14th: Who are the Nonprofits that Do Voter Engagement?
- Renew America Together (blog) Mar 1st: Media Literacy Part Three: Responding to Disinformation
- Unite America (blog) Mar 10th: Three Things Thursday: An important reminder from Ukraine