The Weekly Update

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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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The Fulcrum Has Launched!

The Fulcrum is staffed by award-winning journalists who report on the efforts to make our democratic republic less tribal, our elections more competitive, our politicians less beholden to moneyed interests, and our officials more attentive to real evidence in policy-making so Congress may become more effective, ethical, and civil. The Fulcrum tracks efforts to help government be more responsive to the Americans who want these changes. The Fulcrum team decodes behaviors threatening (or protecting) the principles of the Constitution. Most importantly, they explain how you can get involved and why our democracy depends on it.

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Good Things Come in Three...at least for purposes of this update

We are proud to announce that -- once again -- the Bridge Alliance has welcomed three new members into the BA family. These members won’t come as a surprise to anybody who follows us on Twitter...which should be all of you! You can “Follow” us here. (do it now!) Without further ado, here are your newest Bridge Alliance organizations:

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Campaign and Election Groups Just. Keep. Winning. (Healthy Self Governance Update)

There’s something very meta about the work of campaign and election groups. When they achieve victory, it necessarily impacts how others achieve victory. For instance, a victory by Open Primaries has the direct effect of making victory more likely for candidates who can appeal to independents. If that seems a kind of confusing and odd way of thinking about this part of the Democracy Field …. well, welcome to my brain. With that said, let’s get out of my head and get to the good stuff -- the slew of wins that these groups have achieved over the last few months:

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America Indivisible Releases In-Depth Report on Religion and Civic Engagement

Earlier this month, America Indivisible -- one of the newest members of the Bridge Alliance -- released a collaborative study called “American Muslim Poll 2019.” To be honest, though, the title short-changes the report, which examines political attitudes, civic engagement, and Islamophobia among American Muslims, Jews, Christians (broken down by denomination), and Non-Affiliates.

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Ted gives a TED (Talk) and Better Angels discuss Depolarization, MLK, Jr. and more

TED Talks are a fascinating cultural phenomenon. The nonprofit (TED) was founded in 1984 as a conference under the slogan “ideas worth spreading,” and has been held annually since 1990. It wasn’t until 2006, though, that TED Talks were free to view online -- i.e. accessible by the general public. By June 2011, TED Talks earned over 500 million views, and that figure doubled by November 2012. TED Talks are now a ubiquitous part of modern culture and serve as a signal that the individual giving the 18-minute talk has “arrived.” That’s why we were so excited when Joan Blades of Living Room Conversations and John Gable of AllSides gave a joint TED Talk in 2017. And it’s why we are proud to support Citizen University and celebrate Eric Liu’s third(!?) TED Talk titled “How to revive your belief in democracy.” You can check out that video as well as Eric’s new book titled “Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy.”

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