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The State of American Democracy, A National Conversation


Political dysfunction is impairing our national ability to deal with clear and present dangers to our survival as a nation and to the habitability of the Earth.

     Our focus is neither conservative nor liberal but on democracy which is to say, the set of mutually agreed upon rules by which we conduct the public business. Our Constitutional history and the long evolution of the ideals of self-governance require open and free elections, inclusivity, fairness, transparency, and accountability of officials. To meet this standard, democracy requires a free and fair press, broad civic intelligence, a fair and robust judicial system, and a reasonable distribution of economic costs, benefits, and risks throughout society.

     The core idea is that robust democratic institutions are necessary to making real progress on climate change, sustainable prosperity, and security broadly defined.

We intend to further a national conversation about the state of American democracy and to advance the cause of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Specifically we propose a national discussion focused on two overriding issues but with special attention to those of voting rights and citizenship:

1.      The Constitutional and historic origins of our present crisis; and the

2.      Long-term changes necessary to accommodate the principles of self-governance to the realities of the 21st century

     Oberlin College in collaboration with the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, the Schwarzenegger Institute and other organizations will launch this national conversation about the future of American Democracy on November 15-17. Subsequent events will occur in Denver, Los Angeles, and other cities.