Rebelling in the American Tradition

Posted by on January 23, 2020 at 4:17 PM

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Rebellions in a democracy / republic look much different than in most other systems of government. There’s no need to stage a coup or bring out a guillotine when the system itself allows for significant reforms and power swings at the behest of the people. Our system obviously isn’t perfect (*cough* looks around *cough*), but it’s possible to upend the status quo without shedding a single drop of blood. To be clear, that does not mean working within the system is the only way to bring about real change. Our country has a long history of civil disobedience -- including such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, etc. -- which has long been considered a legitimate form of protest.

And that’s exactly the kind of revolution that Hedrick Smith of Reclaim is referring to when he says that we are in the midst of a rebellion. For his PBS Special “The Democracy Rebellion,” Hedrick spent three years traveling the country and explored grassroots democratic reform efforts in six states. According to Hedrick, we haven’t seen this kind of energy since the Civil Rights Movement, which he covered as a reporter for the New York Times. 

In other words, big, system-wide changes may be coming. 

Meanwhile, Gen Z (i.e. current college students) are having their say in what those changes look like. In 2018, the national student turnout rate was 40.3 percent -- more than double the rate of voting from the previous midterm -- and Bridge Alliance members Democracy Works and ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge are helping colleges form action plans to push those numbers even higher. They are also recognizing schools with quality plans and high turnout rates. In 2018, 46 participating campuses received a Gold or Platinum seal (40-49% turnout and 50+% turnout, respectively), and the Maryland Institute College of Art achieved an incredible 95.20%(!!!!) turnout. We applaud these efforts and look forward to seeing the numbers in 2020.

Finally, we want to boost this awesome story from Civic Spirit. Some time ago, Civic Spirit Educator Bill Mason arranged for Catholic school Bishop Loughlin to offer "Holocaust Studies" as an annual class for seniors. Recently, Lindsay Bressman of Civic Spirit had the opportunity to co-teach Bill’s class about the late Ernest Michel --  a Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz who dedicated his whole life post-war to fostering tolerance, telling history, and building community. Lindsay’s co-teacher? None other than Ernest’s wife, Amy Goldberg.

As always, thank you for your support.


Bridge Alliance Education Fund


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Bridge Alliance Members in the News:

American Promise - The Hill - 10 years later, Americans stand opposed to Citizens United

POGO - National Whistleblower Center - 2020 may be a big year for white collar crime, but report cites poor oversight of accounting firms

OpenGov Foundation - Colorado Springs Independent - Tips for making your message to elected officials count