When Citizens are Involved, Lawmakers Respond

The people have a right to co-create policy with our representatives.

Political analysts around the world have been noting the extreme negative tone of the 2014 midterm election campaign in the U.S. Outside groups that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on smears and innuendo are degrading the political debate. The ugliness of the campaign has exacerbated the bitterness many Americans feel toward the political process itself.

That bitterness tends to be connected to a feeling of detachment or of access denied. People believe they do not have access to their elected officials and that the parties do not respond to their day-to-day needs. This detachment is driven partly by the apparent inability of leading national political figures to work together, which leaves a great deal of important work unfinished.

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Gratitude for Your Citizenship

It is Thanksgiving Day, and I think a lot of us are having the experience of people perking up to what is of real value and giving thanks for people in their lives, even where there have been differences and frictions in the past. In a democratic society, with real freedom of expression, assembly and political engagement, we should all be thankful to anyone who speaks up. Even where we disagree with what is said, we are enriched and empowered by their exercising those basic freedoms.

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JFK: Voice of Collective (Non-partisan) Aspiration

Nov. 22, 1963. Three shots. Historical shock. The near destabilization of the American system. A hurried reordering of executive leadership and governing priorities. Every question asked, and unanswered. Importantly. Exactly fifty years ago today, Pres. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., was shot and killed, in Dallas, Texas. Though official filings cite Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin, no judicial process has ever found him guilty. Instead, we have the controversial and selective report from the Warren Commission, and the shooting remains a more or less unsolved mystery.

Ultimately, what matters most is what we learn and what we put into effect.

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Free Our Energy Markets

Climate change is a market failure—the most costly in world history. The failure of so-called “free markets” to accurately express the cost of carbon-emitting fuels in consumer prices has led to the accelerating destabilization of global climate patterns. That failure stems, in large part, from the fact that our energy markets are not free and open at all, but rigged to favor specific enterprises that deal in specific high-emitting fuels.

We can free our energy markets in a way that allows both conservative pro-business free market thinkers and also progressive pro-environment zero-carbon crusaders to come together and to vote for a brighter, more prosperous future. First we need to unrig the energy marketplace, and then we need to make sure we do so in a way that does not punish households and communities or impede their ability to transition into the new open market.

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9/11 Should be a Day of National Reflection & Reaffirmation

The four coordinated hijackings, resulting in three deliberate attacks and one downed passenger jet, took 2,977 innocent lives and sowed fear and dismay across the world. They were acts of unconscionable evil intended to not only harm innocents and terrify the wider population, but to destabilize American democracy itself, and derail a people’s journey through history, possibly to erode its most virtuous contributions.

It was a clear, sunny morning and the first plane crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center had sparked a sustained global news flash, bringing hundreds of millions of eyes to the television footage. There was confusion and disbelief, and just as it was becoming clear there must have been a devastating loss of life, a massive fireball engulfed the top half of the South Tower, clearly signaling a deliberate terrorist attack was underway.

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United, to Earn a Democratic Future

During the American revolutionary period, Benjamin Franklin published this cartoon —we’ve updated the coloring and the text— with the caption “Join, or Die!” His meaning was that the new states would need to join together into a unified overarching political structure, or they would be easily overrun by the British empire. In Lincoln’s words, “a house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

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