Daily Resource Highlight - 7/12/2021

Posted by on July 12, 2021 at 3:28 PM

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

7/06/2021 - Citizen University Asks “Do You Have Faith in Our Democracy?”

I am not very religious. I self-identify as Jewish, but I don’t belong to a synagogue and I rarely go to services. But being “Jewish” is still a core part of my identity, and that’s -- in part -- because I love being part of the Jewish community. I feel connected to other members of “The Tribe,” and have a strong sense of belonging and togetherness when I celebrate the High Holy Days with my family.

Citizen University is trying to accomplish something similar when it comes to being “American,” and they want your help (deadline is July 18th)! They have built programming from coast-to-coast to create a sense of American civic purpose and renewal that isn’t so different from what you might experience in any faith-based community. Indeed, they specifically call Civic Saturdays “a civic analogue to a faith gathering.”

And like many religious denominations, they are eager to proselytize. They do this in part through their Civic Saturday Fellowship program -- a 9-month program that gives everyday citizens the knowledge and training to “bring friends and strangers together to rekindle faith in one another and in our democracy.”

To be clear, this is not a life consuming program. Fellows are only expected to attend a 4-day “Civic Seminary” workshop, participate in three calls, and plan three Civic Saturday gatherings over the course of 9 months. If you want to rejuvenate your local community’ sense of civic spirit and grow closer to your neighbors, we highly encourage you to apply for this program. If chosen, you would join a community of over 100 Civic Saturday Fellows, including Bridge Alliance’s Reverend Willis Johnson.

Again, the deadline to apply is July 18th. So start thinking about how you would answer questions (found on the last page of the packet), such as “How do you define community?” and “In your community, what civic issues need mending?”


7/08/2021 - Try Out These Policy Making Simulators from Voice of the People

Opinion surveys are inherently flawed. For instance, what does it mean to have a favorable/unfavorable view of a politician? Do you agree with them on policy but dislike them as a person? Or vice versa? There’s very little room for nuance.

Policy-oriented surveys are arguably even worse. It is incredibly easy to bias respondents with question wording, background information, etc., even if you’re trying your best to be objective!

Voice of the People (VOP) has a solution, and they are called Policymaking Simulations, which you can try out here. They have topics ranging from the federal budget to net neutrality to term limits, and much more!  As part of these simulations, Voice of the People:

  1. Provides participants with background briefings that have been thoroughly vetted by experts on different sides of key issues;
  2. Provides participants with the best arguments from different sides; and
  3. Put participants in the shoes of decision makers and present their recommendations to their representatives.

VOP deployed this approach on the issues of solitary confinement and green banks. They found that overwhelming majorities of both Republicans and Democrats favored restricting the use of solitary confinement. Participants were much more divided on the topic of a national green bank -- which would promote private investment in clean energy technologies. While Democrats (92%) and Independents (68%) strongly favored the concept, Republicans (36%) were much more skeptical.

We congratulate Voice of the People for once again setting the standard for public polling. We also encourage anybody who wants a reasonably accurate snapshot of what Americans are thinking to become familiar with VOP’s work, including policymakers and advocates who can use VOP’s survey results as another tool in their advocacy arsenal.