Daily Resource Highlight - 9/27/2021

Posted by on September 27, 2021 at 3:22 PM

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

September 21, 2021 - Rewarding Leadership, Empowering New Leaders

Leaders in this movement tend to be very generous. And that generosity can be pretty durable, since progress comes slowly, if it comes at all. That being said, it’s always nice to get an external boost, whether it’s in the form of recognition and/or compensation.

On October 25th @ 6 PM ET, IndependentVoting.org will host the 20th Annual Anti-Corruption Awards, which are sure to deliver a nice shot of serotonin to the winners. You can attend this virtual event and get your own dose of serotonin by hearing stories like that of the young woman who helped bring gerrymandering reform to Michigan.

Cities of Service, meanwhile, is injecting local community-building efforts with grant money as part of its 2021 Love Your Block program. Each of the eight selected cities will receive $100,000 and personnel support to help boost their fight against blight. You can see each of the winners -- whose populations vary from ~30,000 to over 600,00 -- by clicking here.

Of course, money is only one type of compensation. There’s also opportunity, which is what TechCongress and America Indivisible are providing to young leaders in the fields of government technology and anti-bigotry efforts, respectively.

TechCongress placed ten Congressional Innovation Scholars with members of Congress to provide expertise on a variety of tech-heavy policy areas. And America Indivisible connected seven Public Leaders for Inclusion Fellows with city, state, and county officials to challenge bigotry in their communities.

Both of these programs are paid opportunities that reward and nurture a new generation of leaders who are ready and able to make an impact. We applaud these and all efforts to foster leadership in this growing movement.

September 23, 2021 - Whose Voice Is Being Heard in Congress?

Back in 2009, I interned for a Pennsylvania Congressman from an ideologically diverse district whose constituents had a lot of opinions on the emerging Affordable Care Act. Nevertheless, our phones were relatively quiet and the email load was manageable. In contrast, my friend -- who worked for a “swing vote” Senator -- couldn’t get other work done because she was constantly talking to constituents on the phone.

According to Congressional Management Foundation’s new report “Rebuilding the Democratic Dialogue,” my friend’s experience is now the norm, and my experience looks quaint by comparison. And therein lies the problem. Because our office wasn’t inundated by calls and other communications, we could respond thoughtfully to constituent concerns and help them feel heard. By contrast, House offices today don’t have that kind of capacity. Instead, they have fewer staffers, outdated technology, and receive (conservatively) more than twice as many communications, which leads to Americans feeling voiceless.

This communications problem is being exacerbated by the perceived influence of money in politics, where 12 mega donors accounted for 1 in every $13 dollars spent on federal elections between 2009 and 2020. Add it all up, and it’s no wonder that everyday Americans feel like their voices don’t matter when compared to big-money donors.

CMF’s new report seeks to help Americans feel heard and reestablish trust between Congress and The People. The report contains 13 pages of recommendations for both members of Congress and the various advocates trying to influence decision making, followed by 9 pages of examples at the state and international levels that could potentially be followed.

Obviously these recommendations and examples are only part of the equation to re-instilling confidence in Congress. But they are an important part of the equation, and we sincerely hope that members of Congress will take CMF’s recommendations seriously and implement them where appropriate.