For People Who Believe in the Power of Thinking Together
Our Questions of Civic Proportions Newsletter features the questions, ideas, and good work that lend extra power to the civic-minded.
Political Thinking for Everyday Citizens
There’s a bad idea masquerading as a principled commitment to free speech. We know we have a disinformation problem, but we have yet to decide what we can do to fight against it.
In the days following the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Twitter took action against misinformation by banning President Trump. One study measured that misinformation declined by 73% on that platform as a result. This decision also spurred an effort to remove QAnon accounts promoting false claims of election fraud. Then came the complaints of censorship and that “big tech” had steamrolled the First Amendment.
“Two Americas” has been a theme in our political discussion for decades. Headlines in January warned that a “clash of Two Americas” was real and could get worse.” That’s a tale of Republicans vs. Democrats. It reads like a rhetorical device, something that amps up the drama.
It has roots in our past. We can’t let it slip through our collective memory and become just another strategy to get more clicks.
Our digital lives make it so that information washes over us all day, every day. People announce when they decide to quit social media and disconnect for any period of time. We have to devise a plan not to watch all the stories develop in a never-ending scroll of updates. We need to protect time to think.
An evening of deliberate thinking proved to be more refreshing than the usual social media detox. We started the evening as skeptics. An evening of thoughtful conversation restored our faith in humanity.
My Fellow Citizens,A lot of magic happens on a successful Inauguration Day. This 59th rotationthrough the ceremonies and traditions came with a shared sense of relief after everything had seemed so dangerously compromised. While there is logistical wizardry at every...
This question leads us to talk about the Biden administration and what it will take to return to normal. It’s the wrong question.
Reporting on the mob in the U.S. Capitol, Al Jazeera published the headline, “America is Coming Undone.” Robin Wright included this perspective in her piece for The New Yorker, “What does America’s revolt mean for everybody else?” She lists reactions from authoritarian leaders (gleeful), America’s allies (appalled), and ambassadors from around the world (heartbroken). These perspectives all imply ideas about what happens next.
Questions of Civic Proportions: How does history help us find ourselves in the space between the past and the future?
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz provoked this feeling of coming unstuck or unmoored. He represents me in the Senate, and he insisted on demonstrating that he has a peculiar relationship with time.
By contemplating his actions, I realized that the way we orient ourselves to time makes all the difference in how we understand who we are. It changes how we understand our responsibility to others too.
This is the season to post your 2020 reading list. If there’s one habit that was made for COVID-life, it’s reading. Socially distant by design and no mask required. Like so much else, reading was harder for me this last year too. I read, but not a lot, so I thought I would hang back and watch as everyone else celebrated crossing the finish line with impressive numbers of books read.
For 2020, the end-of-year lists are holding space for the things that didn’t happen. That approach seems inevitable, of course, with vacations postponed, weddings rescheduled, and holidays downsized.
The lists focus on looking to the past, but this exercise of looking closely at what didn’t happen can also help us see our way forward.