Pages tagged "Featured Blog"

Protecting Our Democracy: The Obligation of Leadership

By Thom Little, Ph.D., State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF).

More than two centuries ago, fifty-five men from across thirteen American colonies established a government like none other before, a government where power was bestowed not by birth right or by armed might, but by consent. A democracy. The governed had, by the power of their voice and their vote, the right to determine who would govern them and accordingly, the right to remove them as necessary. Thus began what Alexis de Tocqueville described as “the great experiment” to see if man was truly capable of self government.

With a lot of hard work, good leadership and not a little bit of luck, this government has endured- it has survived some less than competent and noble leaders and irrational decisions made out of fear, racism, sexism, partisanship and just plain ignorance. It has survived wars internal and external. It has, although not without pain, hardship and some serious missteps, integrated peoples of different races, ethnicities, identities and philosophies. The nation has moved forward in fits and starts, but it has moved forward.

Pipat's Letter

By Jacqueline Salit,

Note: This post was the day after the famous Tham Luang cave rescue in July 2018.

I had followed the story of the boys -- the Thai soccer team and their coach -- who were trapped in Tham Luang Cave in Thailand since June 23rd. When I passed a newsstand on Monday night and saw that four were rescued, I choked up for a second. There were still eight more and the coach to go. Scores of divers traveled to the cave from around the world to help with the effort and a Thai Navy Seal died trying to chart an escape route through the floodwaters that filled the mile and a half of treacherous cave pathways.

Yesterday morning all the boys—the Wild Boars –were rescued.  At the end of one of the detailed accounts of the rescue operations, I read some of the notes that the boys had sent to their families, transported by divers who became the link between them while they were still in the cave.  Pipat Poti, who is 15, wrote to his parents, “Mom, Dad, I love you guys, and little sister Toi.  If I get out please take me to a pork barbecue place.  I love you Dad, Mom.”  My heart skipped a beat.  Pipat, trapped in a harrowing maze with low levels of oxygen and facing a dangerous escape route, longed for his family and a small pleasure.  Pork barbecue.

Amplifying the Awesome Power of Debate – IBM's Project Debater and

By Kamy Akhavan, Reposted from

French essayist Joseph Joubert wrote in 1896: "It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it."

For the last 15 years, I've led the nation's most popular debate organization, While our public charity has served more than 180 million people since 2004, our obsession with critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship has met a formidable and unexpected ally – one whose audience could reach into the billions. I'm talking about IBM and its Project Debater.

Glimpsing a Silver-Lining in this Otherwise Gloomy American Moment

By Jacob Hess, Living Room Conversationsand Village Square

Amidst the tumult of this perilous moment in the United States, could something surprisingly beautiful arise? Could this be the moment when good-hearted people across the political spectrum are forced to decisively come together - in defense of something perhaps more fundamental than ideological commitments of their respective parties?  

If so, Jacob Hess (Living Room Conversations & Village Square) writes in a three-part series, it may start with recognizing the extent to which a profound disagreement has come to increasingly divide not only people identifying as "conservative" - but equally so among "progressives" too.

The Need for Better Governance: An Example

By Hana Ryan, The Bridge Alliance

Being a small business owner in America is not easy. You need the right amount of capital, the right team, and the right market just to launch your business, let alone be successful. Yet one of the biggest challenges facing small business’ is an unlikely enemy: the US government. A recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 45% of small business owners consider government regulations a very serious business problem. Why? The sheer volume and compliance cost of regulations eats up a significant amount of human and financial capital - resources in scarce supply for small business owners.


By Tammie Statler, Inspire U.S. Reposted from

Peyton Jernigan, Yorktown High School, shadowed an Inspire U.S. staff member in Virginia for her senior experience. Read what she learned as an Inspired Fellow.

How did you find out about Inspire U.S.?

This past school year, my government class dedicated a class period to Inspire U.S. and the League of Women Voters. Both organizations brought in representatives and had students help register seniors to vote and to answer some questions about voter registration. Not only were these organizations informative, they also made the process comfortable and enjoyable.


By Matt Leighninger, Public Agenda. Reposted from

How can public engagement evolve in order to meet the challenges and conditions of 2018? My previous post argued for making engagement more social, versatile, convenient and fun. This time, I’ll explore the need to deal with the challenge of scale, so that people can be heard on state and federal issues, not just local ones.

To Be Civil....Or Not To Be?

By American Public Square. Reposted from

Recently, thanks to several restaurant incidents in which prominent Republicans were harassed or denied dinner, the notion of “civility” in public discourse has become a major topic in the national conversation.

At American Public Square, civility is key to what we do—provide forums for fact-based, civil conversations between non-like-minded people—so of course our ears are ringing.

Journalists, pundits, and citizens are asking questions: Are there situations where being civil isn’t the best course? Is it ok to be uncivil sometimes, for example, as a form of nonviolent protest?

What Makes a Mature Democracy?

It’s been 242 years since the United States declared independence. Yet, we’re still a young nation. Surveying the state of American political culture, it’s not difficult to conclude that, as a country and a culture, we’re still in our adolescence.

This week, we celebrated our Declaration of *Independence*. What word better defines an adolescent’s vocabulary than “independence”? What document expresses more beautifully and succinctly the twinned pulls of freedom and (hopefully) responsibility that adolescent experiences?

Ballot Fails

By Mikala Cohen, BallotReady. Reposted from

Every year, ballots across the United States include questions on everything from whether to install a public swimming pool to whether citizens should pay for their plastic bags. But what happens if the ballot question is worded incorrectly? Or if the language translation is just a little bit off?

Every year, in communities and districts across the country, voters are victims of ballot fails. Here are some of our favorites.


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