Pages tagged "Featured Blog"

The “Most Abused” Freedom of Information Act Exemption Still Needs to Be Reined In

By Nick Schwellenbach, Senior Investigator, and Sean Moulton, Senior Policy Analyst. Reposted from

Government documents recently made public show that the federal government continues to abuse a provision of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to unjustifiably keep the public in the dark about important government matters that they have a right to know about. Congress created FOIA to give the public access to the inner workings of the federal government. But the government can misuse the law to avoid transparency and hide documents that shed light on internal problems.

Creating Better Conversations through Meta-Consensus

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Have you ever talked with someone and, a little too far into the conversation, you realized you were talking about two totally different things? That’s happened at the Jefferson Center office, when we had staff traveling to both Athens, Ohio and Athens, Greece.

Similarly, when it comes to talking about politics, it seems people are increasingly quick to argue with one another, when they might be coming to the discussion with completely different assumptions on a given topic. This makes having a productive conversation, coming to a consensus, or simply listening to one another that much harder if you aren’t on the same (or at least similar) pages to begin with.

Luckily, deliberation, and specifically Citizens Juries, can help people establish this initial understanding: it’s called meta-consensus, or “a general agreement about the nature of an issue but not necessarily about the outcome of it.”


Coordination Watch: How candidates and outside groups work together to evade anti-corruption laws

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In the 10 years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has not punished a single candidate or political group for illegally coordinating, according to Issue One’s new project, “Coordination Watch.” 

The project highlights how outside groups that must, by law, be independent from candidates have regularly flouted anti-corruption rules and systematically coordinated with their preferred candidates, allowing wealthy special interests to have outsized influence in our political system. Outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money have injected more than $4.4 billion — or about one of every six dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — into federal elections since 2010. 

Partisan Takes Won't Define Nonpartisan Action Civics

By Amy Curran, OK Executive Director, and Scott Warren, CEO. Reposted from Featured on

(Editor’s note: The following commentary appears in response to a commentary published by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ Center for Independent Journalism criticizing the civics-education nonprofit Generation Citizen. OCPA’s center did not respond to a request that this piece be published on their site.)

In the last 10 years, Generation Citizen is proud to have played a leading role in elevating Action Civics as a new, increasingly prominent academic discipline. We feel privileged to have worked together with a politically diverse range of state education agencies and lawmakers — from New York and North Dakota to Oklahoma and Massachusetts — in order to revise social studies standards and pass legislation expanding student access to integrative civic education that blends knowledge of how our government works with opportunities to interact with our public institutions. As educators, administrators, parents and policymakers look for relevant and motivating pedagogies that help young people see their role in our evolving American democratic experience, Action Civics has created a vibrant, dynamic form of civics education.

Red or Blue? Liberal or Conservative? The Pitfalls of Labels

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Our political divide between red and blue, left and right, is often characterized in the media as an ideological conflict between liberalism and conservatism. Yet the meanings of these ideological terms are often misinterpreted and mischaracterized–most often by opposing points of view– in order to fit a preferred political narrative. For those on the left, liberalism implies tolerance and empathy, while conservatism connotes bigotry and selfishness. For those on the right, liberalism infers intellectual naiveté and moral degeneracy, while conservatism assumes moral rectitude and informed reason. A clear understanding of political ideology can be useful; false stereotypes, much less so. We should unpackage these terms as they are used in the popular vernacular to understand just how unhelpful and misguided they have become.

Take a Seat at Oregon’s Kitchen Table: Adapting Targeted Universalism for Broad and Deep Civic Engagement

Reposted from (use code "NCL19" if it asks for a password).

In 2011, a group of Oregon civic leaders and national partners got together to discuss their collective hunch that Oregonians needed and wanted more meaningful opportunities to participate in public decision making. In 2012, they founded and launched Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a statewide civic engagement platform, which they housed in the National Policy Consensus Center in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. The idea was to create a permanent piece of civic infrastructure that combined the best thinking in public participation, community organizing, and deliberative democracy with the online capabilities of campaign software and data management.

As former Oregon Attorney General and President of University of Oregon, David Frohnmayer, put it on the day of the launch: "Instead of loud voices or talk radio, this has been designed with a lot of really scientific architecture. The more people participate, the deeper decision makers can probe into the cross sections of what Oregonians think."

Impeachment, the Infographic, and the Messy Desk

By Karalee Nakatsuka. Reposted from

“Did you hear about the impeachment?” 
“Is the President impeached?” 
“Does the Supreme Court try the President?” 
“Trump is not going to get impeached.” 
“Ms. Nakatsuka why is your desk so messy?”

We had already covered impeachment at the end of September. We had discussed the facts and procedures — impeachment is a charge, it not a conviction; the House impeaches, the Senate holds the trial; the Chief Justice presides over the trial, etc. 

We discussed past presidential impeachments. Presidents Johnson and Clinton were the only presidents to be impeached. No, President Nixon was not impeached. And we discussed President Trump’s pending impeachment. 

In 2020, Our Bitterly Divided America Needs to Recommit to The Golden Rule

Co-Written by Joan Blades and Richard L. Tafel. Reposted from

As we move full speed into the election of 2020, we can feel the pull toward division, domination and revenge in our politics. We write this as two veterans of America's culture wars who fear that this round of battle could lead us toward violence.

As political activists we both know something about trying to bridge the divisions in politics. In 1998, Joan Blades, watched our nation polarize over the impeachment of the President. She co-founded as a bipartisan effort to move the nation toward healing and away from division. Earlier that same decade, Rich Tafel, a minister living in Massachusetts saw the increasing brutality of a culture war between the far left and religious right. He jumped in to bridge the divide by launching Log Cabin Republicans in 1993.

The Danger of American Plutophobia

By Logan Albright. Reposted from

The movie industry is as good a place as any to take stock of the national mood, and if this year is anything to go by, we have plenty to worry about. I’m thinking in particular of three films, each wildly successful either in terms of critical acclaim or box office results, that share a similar theme: hostility towards the rich.

First came Jordan Peele’s widely acclaimed horror film Us, in which a shadow world of miserable doppelgängers serves as a thinly veiled allegory for class warfare. The have-nots in the film are represented as virtual zombies, condemned to a life of servitude and emulation of their counterparts on surface, living happy and carefree lives.

What Will It Take to Be A Corporate Leader?

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(Editor's Note: "CSR" means Corporate Social Responsibility and "ESG" means Environmental, Social, and Governance)

Stakeholder expectations are evolving faster than you can say “planetary boundary.” Here’s where corporate sustainability could be headed next.

Earlier this month, we hosted a group of senior corporate sustainability leaders in Portland for our bi-annual Corporate Working Group. At the two-day meeting, members of our Corporate Affinity Network exchanged insights with their peers on pressing sustainability trends and spoke candidly with the activists and funders that are advancing those trends.

One key question kept coming up in our conversations: What does corporate leadership look like today?

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