Questions of Civic Proportions delivers questions, ideas, and good work from a political life worth sharing. 

It’s a power-up for the civic-minded.

 Each newsletter is a small act of thinking together, delivered twice a month, that transforms the endless scroll of headlines into questions aligned to American political thought and constitutional thinking.

We believe public dialogue is a civic duty but you need good questions. It’s not talking politics. It’s sharing what we can learn about political life.

With our Questions of Civic Proportions Newsletter, you’ll always have good questions.

Questions of Civic Proportions are questions that deserve your time. Let’s make it easier to start thinking together.

 

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"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers."

—Voltaire

Our Latest Questions

 

Questions of Civic Proportions: How Long Will We Wait?

Questions of Civic Proportions: How Long Will We Wait?

There’s a new trend on social media. Get in line to vote and start the stopwatch on your phone. Once you’ve cast your ballot, post a screenshot so we all know how long you were willing to wait.

We’re celebrating these stories as feats of persistence. The people will vote. Neither a pandemic nor shifting voting rules will turn them away.

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Spare a Moment?

Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Spare a Moment?

This public mind is tired. When discussing the Supreme Court nomination on a recent podcast, Dahlia Lithwick said she felt like a “boxing kangaroo.” She has to keep punching without ever knowing if her punches are making a difference. Just keep punching.

I wondered if democracy has always made punching kangaroos of its people. That was almost the theme this week.

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

Suckers and losers. Again, we all had to ask the question of whether or not President Trump is fit to serve as Commander-in-Chief. We’ve been here before. We’re stuck in a loop.

Responding to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic, “Trump: Americans Who Died in War are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,” the political punditry returned to a question they have asked many times before: why don’t we ever hear from General Mattis or General Kelly?

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What will happen if no one plays the game?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What will happen if no one plays the game?

Athletes have a playbook with moves we all have to learn to execute. The question of who will play the game and who will not transcends the court.

One of the most iconic images in sports comes from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two members of the U.S. track team, raised their gloved fists while the national anthem played. In his autobiography, John Carlos described the moment as being in the eye of a hurricane, “There’s something awful about hearing fifty thousand people go silent.” (Quoted in The Atlantic)

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Chase Down All the Dead Ideas that Hurt Women Who Run for Office?

I wanted to know why Katy put her picture on her yard sign. I naively thought the decision came as a result of her side hustle as a realtor. I also hated that Katy ran with her first name, “Vote for Katy.” I hadn’t seen male candidates use either of these strategies.

A more experienced campaign hand explained it to me: Katy wanted people to see how likable she was…

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Spare a Moment?

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.

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

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.”

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: How Long Will We Wait?

Questions of Civic Proportions: How Long Will We Wait?

There’s a new trend on social media. Get in line to vote and start the stopwatch on your phone. Once you’ve cast your ballot, post a screenshot so we all know how long you were willing to wait.

We’re celebrating these stories as feats of persistence. The people will vote. Neither a pandemic nor shifting voting rules will turn them away.

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Spare a Moment?

Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Spare a Moment?

This public mind is tired. When discussing the Supreme Court nomination on a recent podcast, Dahlia Lithwick said she felt like a “boxing kangaroo.” She has to keep punching without ever knowing if her punches are making a difference. Just keep punching.

I wondered if democracy has always made punching kangaroos of its people. That was almost the theme this week.

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

Suckers and losers. Again, we all had to ask the question of whether or not President Trump is fit to serve as Commander-in-Chief. We’ve been here before. We’re stuck in a loop.

Responding to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic, “Trump: Americans Who Died in War are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,” the political punditry returned to a question they have asked many times before: why don’t we ever hear from General Mattis or General Kelly?

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What will happen if no one plays the game?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What will happen if no one plays the game?

Athletes have a playbook with moves we all have to learn to execute. The question of who will play the game and who will not transcends the court.

One of the most iconic images in sports comes from the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two members of the U.S. track team, raised their gloved fists while the national anthem played. In his autobiography, John Carlos described the moment as being in the eye of a hurricane, “There’s something awful about hearing fifty thousand people go silent.” (Quoted in The Atlantic)

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Chase Down All the Dead Ideas that Hurt Women Who Run for Office?

I wanted to know why Katy put her picture on her yard sign. I naively thought the decision came as a result of her side hustle as a realtor. I also hated that Katy ran with her first name, “Vote for Katy.” I hadn’t seen male candidates use either of these strategies.

A more experienced campaign hand explained it to me: Katy wanted people to see how likable she was…

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: Can We Spare a Moment?

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.

read more
Questions of Civic Proportions: What is strength without purpose?

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.”

read more

Top Issues from 2019

 

Did You See the Magic at your Thanksgiving Gathering? It’s the Cure for Loneliness.

 

When a big holiday meal goes well, we all start to see the magic in a hundred small things.

 

Perhaps your holiday crew avoided political confrontations this year. Or you palyed board games without someone getting their feelings hurt…

Read more

Is Democracy a Call-to-Arms or Something Else?

 

Leoanrd Cohen kept coming at me this week. I’m not his biggest fan, but I’ve figured out that he has something to teach us, something that’s important to hear right now.

 

Read more

 

What Can We Learn from Thinking in Time, Even for Just a Minute?

 

I haven’t been able to get my bearings on events in northern Syria this week. There’s a book I keep within reach for moments like these. One of the most pragmatic skills of all lies in the study of history and politics.

Read more

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

 

Robert Putnam blamed television and urban sprawl. When we spend our time commuting or binge-watching, we don’t have time to talk to our neighbors. While most of us know some of our neighbors, few of us interact with them in any meaningful way.

Read more

 

 

 

What can we learn from those questions that keep calling us back to them?

 

We mark a new school year in countless ways… In some of those distant places, we remember a question or an assignment that opened up our mind to discovering something new. The best questions make a lasting impression.

Read more

 

Time to start telling the truth about the hardest work of democratic life

 

When you step into the arena, you risk everything. No one can tell you what happens next. The work of leading a cause requires a resilience that doesn’t get much air time.

 

Read more

 

More Past Issues

Read the whole archive here