The Weekly Update

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Participatory Budgeting Gets An International Boost

The focus of the Bridge Alliance family is the United States. In fact, as you may have noticed, we rarely -- if ever -- talk about global affairs. This doesn’t mean that Bridge Alliance members limit their work to the USA (Charter for Compassion is active in almost 50 nations!), but when you open the Weekly Update, the overwhelming likelihood is that you’ll learn more about a domestic effort to get our nation back on track.

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Ballotpedia Joins the Bridge Alliance Family

We are excited to announce that the newest member of the Bridge Alliance family is Ballotpedia.  If you have never heard of Ballotpedia, we encourage you to check them out. Ballotpedia’s goal is to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government. Moreover, they are firmly committed to neutrality. 

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Good Governance Update: Innovating and Holding Lawmakers Accountable

It’s time for another Democracy Field Overview update! For those who are relatively new to the Weekly Update...approximately once a month we give a quick overview of the latest happenings in one sector of the democracy movement. There are three sectors in all -- Civic Engagement, Electoral Systems & Campaigns, and Governance & Policymaking -- and we rotate through them every three months. This month, we are once again focusing on Governance & Policymaking; a.k.a. Promoting good governance. Bridge Alliance members continue to encourage policymakers to be forward-thinking in both the how and the what of policymaking. First, in terms of how…

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Are Closed Primaries Unconstitutional?

Several members of the Bridge Alliance are fighting for open primaries, including IndependentVoting.org and, of course, Open Primaries. These efforts include pressuring politicians to introduce and pass legislation and trying to get ballot initiatives up for popular vote -- i.e. democratic approaches. While these campaigns have certainly produced results, reformers face a constant up-hill battle against status quo-minded state parties. What if closed primaries are unconstitutional, though? What if the U.S. Constitution protects independent-minded Americans from having to register with a particular party in order to participate in the primary process? According to three legal scholars (including Jeremy Gruber of Open Primaries), that’s precisely the situation. You can hear them make their case on a conference call with IndependentVoting.org on July 29th @ 8:30 PM EDT. Email Cathy Stewart at cathy.stewart5@gmail.com for more information.

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These Groups Are Achieving Success by Bringing People Together

We are living in a time of intense division and isolation. A study released last year found that nearly half of American adults (43%) reported feeling lonely. As humans, we are naturally social creatures and we want to connect with other humans. And when we do connect, the results can be incredible. A number of Bridge Alliance members have done great work connecting and uniting people with a common purpose. In this week’s Update, we focus on four such members whose efforts look very different, but who are each bridging divides within our country:

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Millennials Are Making Their Mark in Congress and the States

Millennials (defined as people born between 1981 and 1996)  still aren’t quite old enough to have a significant, elected presence on the Hill. Just one Senator -- Josh Hawley -- is less than 40 years old, and only 26 of 435 House Representatives were born after 1980 (20 of those were elected during the 2018 midterms, including 3 of the 4 new Congressional Future Caucus leaders). Nevertheless, millennials are still finding ways to make their mark in Congress. For instance, some are becoming Congressional Innovation Fellows  with TechCongress and helping to bring the legislative branch into the 21st century. These men and women are bringing their expertise to bear on legislation and helping to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and D.C. lawmakers. Impressively, the 2019 Fellows averaged over seven offers per fellow.

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Exemplars of Public Service Receive Democracy Awards

The Bridge Alliance is proud to be a Founding Partner of the Congressional Management Foundation's Democracy Awards! During a time of fierce polarization and mistrust in government, the Democracy Awards recognize exceptional work in the areas of constituent services, workplace environment, transparency and accountability, and lifetime achievement. As you’ll see from the links, great work is still being accomplished on the Hill by both Democrats and Republicans, even in the most partisan times.

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I’m Sensing a Pattern Here… (Updates in Civic Engagement)

Before we talk patterns or surveys, I wanted to let you know that the Bridge Alliance, Big Tent Nation, and NCoC are accepting nominations for the Third Annual Civvys Awards until July 12th. If you know an individual, organization, or project that is making a positive impact through collaboration, nominate them here. The categories are National, Local, and Youth. As for last week’s survey...we asked you what “Civic Engagement” means to you, and many of you responded (results at the bottom -- spoiler: the #1 response might surprise you!).  Our question this week: how many of your friends are on the “other side” ideologically?

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Presidential “Spoiler” Candidates Might Soon Be a Thing of the Past

Before we get into “spoilers,” I wanted to let you know about two things. First, we want to learn more about you. That’s why we’re going to start asking you a question (or two) in each Weekly Update. This week we want to know what Civic Engagement means to you. Second, our friends at Convergence are about to come out with their new report on helping former prisoners reassimilate into society -- called the Reentry Ready Project. Convergence brought together key stakeholders (including formerly incarcerated individuals) to brainstorm innovative strategies that will transform the current system. Those solutions will be presented on Wednesday, June 26th in Washington, D.C. -- with a keynote speech by Senator Tim Kaine -- and you can register for the event now (it’s free)!

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Imagine...Though It Might Not Be Easy If You Try (h/t John Lennon)

Imagine a functional Congress that passes legislation on issues where there’s broad agreement and exercises oversight of the executive branch regardless of the President’s party. Not easy, right? (If it was easy, you have a much more flexible imagination than me). As I type this, the latest poll found that just 14% of Americans approved of the way Congress is handling its job (Source: Economist/YouGov). And there’s good reason for that -- the budget is out of control; fundraising prowess (rather than legislative competence) is the key to gaining power; and most legislation is drafted by a small group of legislative leaders, White House officials, and lobbyists.

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