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: What will we do with our “Two Americas” story this time?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What will we do with our “Two Americas” story this time?

“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.

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Questions of Civic Proportions: How does history help us find ourselves in the space between the past and the future?

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.

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QCP: When You Look Back at2020, What Do You See?

QCP: When You Look Back at2020, What Do You See?

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.

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Questions of Civic Proportions: What did you see on Inauguration Day?

QCP: Can We Put American Democracy Back Together Again?

The answer is equal parts art and democracy, but we have everything we need. The trending stories on social media continue to focus on broken norms and lost time, but there’s another story to talk about in this last month of 2020.

What if the year ahead is full of possibilities?

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Questions of Civic Proportions: What will we do with our “Two Americas” story this time?

QCP: Have You Seen the Good Hues?

This is our remedy for the doom scrolling that accompanied the following of election results and court challenges. With that political moment behind us (mostly), it’s time to turn our attention to complex questions again.

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QCP: When You Look Back at2020, What Do You See?

Questions of Civic Proportions: What are we learning about American democracy?

“It feels like America is at a fault line. Like this is an end of an era,” a foreign journalist reflects on our recent election. If you have spent these last couple of weeks feeling like you’re managing an emergency situation, this fault line explains that too.

With election results decided (no concession required), academics have started debating the use of the word “coup” and whether or not the U.S. survived an autocratic attempt. Political observers insist that American institutions have proven themselves and will continue to hold. The wheels of American democracy continue to roll forward.

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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.

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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…

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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More Past Issues

Read the whole archive here