What Do We Do?

civic participation & democratic norms

Yesterday morning, I spoke to the Danville Unitarians. Later in the afternoon, Mike Pence ostentatiously walked out of the Colts game when players “took a knee” to protest racism and inequality. In light of his despicable posturing,  my morning remarks seem particularly relevant, so I’m sharing them. When I was a very new lawyer, an older lawyer in the firm […]

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What We Don’t Know: The Consequences of Civic Ignorance

civic literacy

When I give presentations like the one I recently posted, addressing deficits in civic literacy and the extent of American ignorance of our constitutional system, I often include a statistic from a 2011 survey: only 36% of Americans can name the three branches of government. Audiences tend to gasp. Only 36%! How awful! Well, the Annenberg Public Policy Center has just released the […]

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Bursting Bubbles: America Needs A Civic Service Program

americorps civic service

Richard Cohen recently had an opinion piece in the Washington Post addressing the undeniable fact that Americans increasingly occupy information “bubbles”–and that we rarely, if ever, intersect with the very different bubbles occupied by others. He began by describing his long-ago relationship with someone named Charlie. He and Charlie came from very different backgrounds and had very different beliefs; their close friendship was […]

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The City And The Constitution

civic literacy

I was asked to speak to participants in the local OASIS program about the interaction of the Constitution with municipal government, and about my experiences during the Hudnut administration. I decided to share it, both as a needed vacation from Trumpism and as a reminder that there used to be decent politicians in both parties… When constitutional issues arise, most […]

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The Republican Attack on Universities, Education & Intelligence

education

Yesterday brought news of a recent poll in which a majority of Republicans blamed universities for taking the  nation in the “wrong direction.” Think about that. I don’t know Henry Giroux, but his recent article in Salon was what we used to call a barn-burner, and it provides a context for that sorry and depressing poll result. It began: Donald Trump’s ascendancy in American politics has […]

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Human Rights, Equal Rights, Political Rights

civil rights equality

Last night, I spoke at the annual dinner of the Columbus, Indiana, Human Rights Commission. Here’s what I said (sorry for the length): Over the past several years, American political debate has become steadily less civil. Partisan passions have overwhelmed sober analysis, and the Internet allows people to choose their news (and increasingly, their preferred realities). During the recent election […]

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Civic Ignorance: The Evidence Keeps Accumulating

civic literacy - we the people

Periodically, I use this blog to indulge a rant about Americans’ lack of civic literacy. (Regular readers are probably getting tired of my preoccupation with civic education–or more accurately, the lack thereof.) Be warned– I’m going to beat that dead horse again today. A column written by Colbert King from the Washington Post has highlighted still another research project confirming Americans’ low levels […]

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Separation of Powers: Trump’s Loose Grasp of Basic Civics

Donald Trump and civics - civic ignorance is dangerous

Following a U.S. District judge’s decision to block his controversial sanctuary cities executive order, Donald Trump (and many of his surrogates, supporters and right-wing media mouthpieces) lashed out questioning the very constitutional foundations that keep government power in check. His criticism is the latest in a long line of commentary aimed at delegitimizing the constitutional role of the Judiciary. Trump’s Reaction “First the Ninth Circuit rules […]

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