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
The trend is a downward slope no one expects to turn around. Every year, fewer and fewer people report having finished a book. Our lists of leisure time pursuits often do not include “reading a book.” Books have lost their audience.
Politicolor is an act of resistance in this regard. Few of us here chase the latest trend. Most of us always have a book we’re reading. We have a shared belief that reading is a critical civic habit.
I thought I had unlocked my superpower. When I learned to read, I participated in a program that required knocking on my neighbor’s doors. I read to them from my stapled packet of worksheets. I learned to love to read, but part of the superpower of this memory is how reading worked to connect to my community.
The efforts to ban books today are about limiting this power. They are a threat we have to take seriously.
As our third legislative session wraps up in Texas, I have spent too much time with the never-ending scroll that goes along with staying up-to-date. We’ve now seen that Facebook has the evidence that our social media habits aren’t helpful for our mental health. I think it’s working against our civic health too.
Even if we set aside what we know about misinformation and extremism online, our online news consumption is corrupting our ideas of how change works.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Donald Trump is one of the best things that ever happened for cable news. Every day had a new story, and we were told that their ratings went through the roof. I avoided cable news and vowed to never turn a single page in a book about the man, his administration, or anyone who now wants to tell us how they worked on the inside to save us all from certain doom. As a result, I nearly skipped How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.
This book, however, is the book to read if you want to know what we should be talking about instead.
In an instant, the right song has the power to transport across time and space to some past moment. On this day, there’s a song that transports me to a moment that we share.
At some point in the day, every April 4th, I think “A shot rang out in the Memphis sky.”
This is the shot that killed Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. A shot that marks the end of so much, a final chapter in the Civil Rights Movement.
I grew up watching Wonder Woman fly across the country in her invisible jet. My grandmother loved Linda Carter in this show. I was very young, and she wanted me to feel empowered by this female superhero.
I recently discovered one of my favorite Harriet Tubman quotes. The words describe her. They are not her own but they still speak to why itâ€™s important to hear voices like hers.
Thereâ€™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 â€œbig techâ€ had steamrolled the First Amendment.