The Hollowing Out of US Democracy

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Date and Time: 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Speaker: 
Peter Levine
Tufts University
Abstract: 

The 2016 campaign reflected deeper trends in our civic life that threaten our republic. We’ve traditionally had civic organizations that meet a few important criteria. They offer benefits other than civic engagement to draw people in, but then give their members reasons to think and act politically. They give people voice. They attract diverse people who must interact and compromise. They create pathways to leadership for those who become most interested. To keep members engaged, their leaders must demonstrate the arts of deliberation and compromise. People who belong to such organizations learn from experience to expect leadership that is respectful, rule-guided, and accountable. All of these organizations have shed members, for a variety of reasons, and the losses have been concentrated among working class Americans. What can we do to reverse these declines?