The Weekly Update

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You Are Not Alone -- We Want to Share Our Community With You

We have entered a new time in the United States and around the world. COVID-19 has completely upended normal routines of everyday life. Government officials at the national, state, and local levels are scrambling to provide leadership and contain a disease that is highly contagious, has no known cures, and is deadly to the most vulnerable among us. All while maintaining calm for the public. The Bridge Alliance is an “alliance,” but in many ways we’re also a family, and we will do our small part to help you through these times. We have a community of 100+ organizations, and our community is composed of compassionate leaders who want to help you in every way that they can. We have members who address the human response like Living Room Conversations, which has already put together a resource page to help alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that many of us are experiencing right now.

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Be Their Guest! Be Their Guest! Put Their Empowerment to the Test!

Find a Job in the Movement at DemocracyJobs.orgOne of the great innovations of the 21st century is harnessing the power of the internet to connect people instantly no matter their location. With one click, I can have a face-to-face conversation with colleagues from coast-to-coast. Living Room Conversations is taking full advantage of this technology with its slate of digital conversations. If you’ve never participated in one of these conversations, I strongly encourage you to give them a try. Here are a couple upcoming conversations (You can find all their offerings at www.livingroomconversations.org/events/):  The Power of Empathy on March 16th @ 7 PM ET The Golden Rule in Politics on April 5th @ 3 PM ET

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Could “Matching Funds” be a Game Changer in Your State?

It seems like every campaign season candidates brag about raising millions from their “small donor” base, which serves as “proof” that they are not controlled by big money donors. It’s even better to say that you’ve raised more money from small donors than large donors. It’s even better to say that you’ve raised more money from small donors than large donors. Unfortunately, it takes a high profile campaign to pull that off, and the vast majority of candidates are not running high profile campaigns. That’s why, according to the National Institute for Money in Politics (NIMP), the average candidate for state office receives over ¾ of their campaign contributions from some combination of large donors ($1,000+), non-party organizations, and their political party.

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Bowling with Others during a Hectic Election year

It’s easy to feel alone during the dreary winter months, as our voices seem drowned out by the chaos of the election cycle. We all seem to be “Bowling Alone.” Common Ground Solutions is exploring this loneliness at its core, and the efforts to reverse the destructive trend -- including those led by Bridge Alliance member Citizen University. If you (or someone you know) are lonely and disengaged, check out the multitude of Bridge Alliance member organizations that want to connect with you! Events are happening all the time, both virtually and in-person. If you happen to be in the D.C. / Maryland area on February 28th, Better Angels is hosting a workshop in Carroll County, Maryland on how to communicate effectively across the political divide, and Stand Up Republic is hosting its Summit on Principled Conservatism. And if you happen to be in northern Florida in early March, Village Square is planning its Annual Tallahassee Town Hall on March 10th.

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Empowering New, Young Leaders in this New Decade

It is difficult for young people to become active participants in our democratic republic. Before you’re 18, you aren’t allowed to vote or run for public office. So when young people go to college, becoming politically engaged isn’t automatic. It can take a backseat to coping with living on their own for the first time, along with handling a more challenging course load and entirely new social dynamics, including people whose political views are shaped by entirely different life experiences. This is one of the reasons why youth empowerment organizations are so critical to the healthy self-governance movement. It is vital to help young Americans build civic habits early on, which is why the Bridge Alliance is thrilled to welcome the higher education focused Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) and high school focused Civics Unplugged to the Alliance.

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Collaborating on Conversations -- and How Congress is Failing Whistleblowers

A large part of the Bridge Alliance’s work revolves around conversations. “Bridging Ideological Divides” is the biggest category of membership (31 organizations), and “Facilitating Citizen / Government Interaction” isn’t too far behind (19 organizations). With so many member organizations interested in encouraging dialogue to bridge the divide and find common ground, there are numerous opportunities for collaboration. The Center for the Study of Liberty (CSL) is taking full advantage by partnering with two of the biggest names in citizen discussions -- Better Angels and Living Room Conversations (LRC). On February 19th, CSL will host John Wood, Jr. of Better Angels for a conversation about “the ‘unmooring’ that took place in 2016, the influence of college campuses on our national dialogue, the importance of rebuilding our ‘emotional economy,’ and much more.” 

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You Want a Job in the Movement? Bookmark This Website

People regularly ask me how they can get a job in the healthy self-governance movement. Usually my advice is to attend different events, network, and check out Bridge Alliance members’ websites. This has always felt unsatisfying. While I understand that, until very recently, you had to scour the newspaper and make phone calls to find a job (trust me, I did all of that!), this is 2020 for goodness sakes! It should be easy for employers and job seekers in our field to find each other (see, e.g., Indeed, Idealist, ZipRecruiter, etc.).

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The (Capitol) Hill Has Gotten Rocky

The Hill -- and especially the House -- is a tough place to work. As Kevin Kosar of the R Street Institute recently testified, staffers are underpaid, overworked, and there’s not enough manpower to go around (as a former constituent services representative who earned ~$30k while working 74 hour weeks...I can confirm). Furthermore, members of the House are constantly under the gun to raise reelection funds, since they are “up for reelection” the moment they get sworn into office. Meanwhile, the American people are upset because nothing seems to ever get done, and the media profits off of the frustration by feeding us a never ending soap opera that not even General Hospital can rival.

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Rebelling in the American Tradition

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.

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The Alliance Welcomes Two Orgs Dedicated to Civics, And Welcomes Back a Third

If you unsubscribe from our updates (don’t test this out!), you get a message saying “you are always welcome to come back.” That invitation applies to many former members as well. Bridge Alliance member organizations are like family members, and family can drift apart. But like family, reunions can be extra sweet when the circumstances are right.

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