Political Thinking for Everyday Citizens

Practicing a civic perspective

Since the beginning, thoughtful political observation has happened by way of big questions. What makes a question big? It’s something like the theory of relativity. From one angle, the question looks as simple as asking what time it is, but the answer requires looking at everything we thought we knew from a different perspective.

Questions of Civic Proportions: What is missing from our marketplace of ideas?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What is missing from our marketplace of ideas?

Our elected representatives called “Big Tech” to account last week. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple all held down their corner of a Zoom meeting. Approaches varied, but most questions suggested that the primary concern was fair competition.

Is our marketplace of ideas missing more apps, more products, and more search results? That’s a fair question for an antitrust hearing.

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Questions of Civic Proportions: Is it different this time?

Questions of Civic Proportions: Is it different this time?

Spray cans left at the bottom of the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia invited everyone to leave their mark. People there transformed the space around the monument into a community space, some described the scene as a “focus of civic outpouring.”

The pictures posted online include basketball and ballerinas. Look at the t-shirts and you’ll find the claim, “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

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Questions of Civic Proportions: Is it different this time?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What Can We Make of a World on Fire?

There’s one phrase that keeps shouting at me over all the images of the protests. The phrase comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me (2015).

Reflecting on his childhood, Coates describes what it was like growing up as a black boy in the United States. The phrase that haunts me today appears in that account. Coates says he learned to be “powerfully afraid.”

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We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.

—Carl Sagan

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