In just over a month and a half, Joe Biden will be inaugurated the 46th President of the United States.
“Our long national nightmare is over!”
Hold on there, Sparky.
In the final analysis, our democratic institutions held, but just barely, and only by the heroic, unrelenting efforts of Democrats and activists and Democratic activists from Nancy Pelosi to the nice old lady who, COVID risk be damned, worked your local precinct on election day. We had only the most tepid, token, weak assistance from a mere handful of Republicans, and if that sounds like I’m saying that one of our two political parties is irrepairably broken, THAT IS CORRECT.
How do we even begin repairing the damage?
Lots of people have ideas, but I think some of the best have come out of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
In 2018, AAA&S convened a commission on the practice of democratic citizenship, led by Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Stephen Heintz, President and CEO of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Eric Liu, Cofounder and CEO of Citizen University.
The commission led quantitative and qualitative, ethnographic research with representative samples of Americans from all walks of life and places on the political spectrum that resulted in a report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century. The report contains 31 specific recommendations organized under six high-level strategies:
- Achieve Equality of Voice and Representation
- Empower Voters
- Ensure the Responsiveness of Political Institutions
- Dramatically Expand Civic Bridging Capacity
- Build Civic Information Architecture that Supports Common Purpose
- Inspire a Culture of Commitment to American Constitutional Democracy and One Another
I’m chuffed that some of their specific recommendations are things I’ve written about here in the past several years: items from Rep. Don Beyer’s Fair Representation Act (such as multi-member districts and ranked choice voting); ending gerrymandering by turning redistricting over to non-partisan citizens commissions; overturning Citizens United; term limits for the Supreme Court (which Hecate has long advocated for); taking concrete steps to combat voter suppression; immediately and automatically restoring the vote to returning citizens; creating incentives for citizens to get involved in their local communities (too many posts to link); and universal national service, among others.
I strongly encourage you to download and read the full report, available at: https://www.amacad.org/ourcommonpurpose/report.
And then commit to ONE THING you can do to advance one of the recommendations that seems most important to you or resonates best with you.
And if you’re feeling like you could use a little inspiration, make sure to listen to the wise and talented Amanda Gorman, America’s first Youth Poet Laureate, recite her Believer’s Hymn for the Republic.
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