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We’re investing in the future of democracy by developing the next generation of engaged and constructive citizens.

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Chapters

Building a student movement to strengthen our democracy and facilitating constructive engagement on college campuses.

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Bridge Institute

Mobilizing the energy of young people into tangible impact beyond the college campus.

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“Our Chapters are at the core of grassroots strategy to build a program that equips students with the knowledge and ability to improve the political culture in their communities. Click on each icon to learn more about a chapter!”

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“We champion viewpoint diversity, promote a solution-oriented political culture, and teach constructive engagement in order to develop a generation of political leaders that value empathy and common purpose”

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Our movement empowers young people from across the political spectrum to fight for a less polarized democracy that works for everyone.

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Through National Dialogue, Biden has a Chance to Heal Partisan Divide

by Neil Wollman, Ph. D. & Senior Fellow – Bentley University To restore the civic bonds among the American people will require moving beyond the extreme partisanship that characterizes our current moment. Biden has called for healing, unity, and lowering the partisan temperature – and has reached out to Trump supporters. A National Dialogue with resulting legislation and institutional changes, and that engages all segments of our society, can start to bring us together.  To be most fruitful, this dialogue should center on common ground solutions to the steady erosion of our civic discourse, democracy, and trust in public institutions. A substantive National Dialogue would involve the creation of task forces around the country comprised of diverse citizens, trained moderators, and recognized experts, that would air diverse viewpoints and craft recommendations on how to solve our key national challenges.  Burning topics that suggest themselves include strengthening our democratic system and trust in elections; restoring belief in the value and fairness of our media, educational system, and governing institutions; restoring civility to our public life; and promoting a society that offers opportunity and justice to all and where people can unite in common purpose. To have real teeth, the task forces ought to be organized as official Presidential government entities, and their composition and logistics should be worked out on a bipartisan basis.  Ideally, there should be an extra emphasis on involving Trump supporters in task force deliberations, as a tangible demonstration of Biden’s sincerity in taking seriously the discontent that fueled Donald Trump’s rise. Finally, the recommendations of the task forces need to be accorded real, rather than merely rhetorical force, and incorporated into Executive branch and Congressional policy deliberations, legislation, and the work of public and private institutions.  It will take years to right the listing ship that America, symbolically, has become, far from the beacon of opportunity and hope that our nation has long represented in the world.  But we can make a start to heal our divisions,  rebuild our institutions, and help Americans move beyond the cynicism and despair many feel about our current society and politics.
17
Dec

Issue Brief – Economy

Issue Brief – Economy

“Economic mobility is diminishing. Millennials and Gen Z are projected to be the first generations to be worse off than our parents. Youth in minority communities, rural communities and countless other communities struggle to make ends meet. Our economic futures are not as bright as the American Dream has promised for centuries. But our political system has not addressed the lack of economic mobility.” The Problem of Intergenerational Wealth Already, Millennials have slightly less wealth than Baby Boomers did at the same age. In 2016, the median net worth of Millennial households was about $12,500 in 2016, compared to $20,700 for Boomer households of the same age in 1983. Additionally, The United States prime-age labor force participation continues to lag that of major industrialized countries by a significant margin. The Problem of the Pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate this wealth gap for Millennials and Gen Z, with a long-term negative impact on the lifetime earnings and prosperity of young Americans as they miss key formative job experience early in their careers. Further, at the height of quarantine, the U.S. youth unemployment rate peaked at 26.9%— the highest recorded rate since the government started collecting data in 1948—despite having one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the developed world before the pandemic.  The Problem of Inefficient Government Spending Every year, federal and state governments spend trillions of dollars to end poverty and in entitlement programs, yet millions (Census Bureau) of Americans continue to be trapped in intergenerational cycles of poverty. With inefficient spending, the government will continue to add to the multi-trillion dollar debt burden, which is an intergenerational transfer that will result in higher taxes and lower government benefits for young people in the future. Shared Values on Economic Mobility – We should work towards making sure young people should have access to benefits such as health insurance and family leave no matter the sector in which they work. – All work has value, so we should aim for all workers to be able to afford basic necessities for themselves and their families, and enjoy an increasing quality of life. – Educational attainment is one of the best indicators of lifelong earning potential and can be used to expand opportunities for economic mobility. – Everybody should have the freedom to engage in the work they love and negotiate employment arrangements that benefit them. – Government resources and private charity should be targeted to those who need it the most. Bipartisan Policy Starting Points – Increase wages or improve job prospects for younger and less skilled workers. – Address the long-standing barriers that impede entry into quality employment and job training programs for young people. – Refocus public policy towards building strong families and cohesive communities. – Coordinate and connect our critical data systems to make the best-informed decisions about policies and needed system changes. – Decrease arbitrary and punitive restrictions in federal policies that severely limit young adults’ access to food, housing and other basic needs. – Dismantle structural barriers to youth employment. Authored by: .ugb-d5cb6d7 .ugb-team-member__item.ugb-team-member__item1 .ugb-team-member__image{background-image:url(https://13g3ug2c670s488b483ny6i5-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Barba-headshot-1024×682.jpeg)}.ugb-d5cb6d7 .ugb-team-member__item.ugb-team-member__item2 .ugb-team-member__image{background-image:url(https://13g3ug2c670s488b483ny6i5-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/DanielHeadshot-42.jpg)}.ugb-d5cb6d7 .ugb-team-member__name{color:#ffffff !important}.ugb-d5cb6d7 .ugb-team-member__position{color:#ffffff !important}.ugb-d5cb6d7 .ugb-button.ugb-button–has-icon.ugb-button–has-icon svg{width:px;height:px}Jesse BarbaSenior Director, Young InvinciblesDaniel Di MartinoActivist, Speaker, Writer
17
Dec

Issue Brief – Democracy

Issue Brief – Democracy

“Democracy’s weakening has exacerbated our country’s inability to contend with any problem. A functioning democracy requires both responsive institutions and an active citizenry. Various institutional failures have made it difficult for our government to translate public opinion into policy. High levels of political polarization and a lack of common purpose is weakening our civic culture. But our political system has not addressed our democracy’s problems.” The Problem of Our Polarized Civil Society Our civic fabric is fraying, creating an electorate caught in separate echo chambers. In 2020, majorities of both Biden and Trump supporters say they either have “just a few” or no friends who support the other candidate. Social media and geographic sorting have exacerbated these trends towards hyper partisanship. Even more worrisome, according YouGov, Nationscape and the Voter Study Group, more than 1 in 3 Americans who identify as Democrat or Republican now believe that violence could be justified to advance their parties’ political goals, a significant uptick since 2017 when just eight percent of both Republicans and Democrats felt the same.  The Problem of Unresponsive Institutions  Over 70% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress does its job. Much of the blame can be attributed to Congress’s failure to substantively address many of the policy issues with which the public is concerned. Regrettably, public opinion often has minimal impact on the likelihood that Congress will pass a law. In contrast, the interests of a powerful few have a disproportionate influence on U.S. government policy. What is more, incivility has become the norm, and there is little interparty deliberation when crafting policy, resulting in frequent threats of government shutdowns.  Like Congress, an independent judiciary serves a vital role in our democracy. But an independent judiciary is not guaranteed and relies on the perseverance of good political norms. Concerningly, in recent years, we have seen a fracturing of our political norms, such as aggressively polarized judicial nomination fights, threats to impeach judges for political purposes, and growing claims of partisan bias following unpopular judicial decisions. These actions have successfully increased the public’s cynicism toward the judiciary and could leave lasting damage to the third branch of government. Over time, the Executive Branch has grown in dominance, which has further contributed to citizen disengagement; there are fewer opportunities for individuals to participate or give input, an over-reliance on one person to “fix all our problems”, and an outsized focus on presidential elections over congressional, state, and local elections. Political power exercised by vetoes and executive orders creates a “winner-take-all” outcome, but democracy is not a winner-take-all game. Shared Values on our Democracy: – Our elections should honor the sovereignty of the American people. Our elections should be free from foreign interference, and wealthy interests should not influence our elections. – Our democracy depends on a vibrant civil society, one in which we have free-flowing ideas, civil dialogues across divides, and a citizenry that is informed and holds its government accountable. Our national motto is, “E pluribus unum”: Out of many, one. We ought to adhere to this motto and find unity in our shared humanity.  – We can rediscover ways to emphasize the values that our Founding Fathers articulated in both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. – While preserving our history, our democratic institutions should also innovate to address uniquely 21st-century problems. – Our country’s progress on all other issues relies upon a functioning and responsive democracy, so addressing our weakening democracy should be a top priority for all Americans. Bipartisan Policy Starting Points – Prioritize opportunities to heal our social fabric through strengthening civic education, creating opportunities for honest conversation, and empowering citizens to be engaged and active. – Eliminate barriers to voting so fulfilling one’s civic duty of voting is easier, not harder. – Reduce political polarization by considering innovative voting processes (e.g., proportional representation, ranked-choice voting, approval voting) and redistricting processes to make electoral choices less binary. – Explore potential limits on campaign spending so our elections are no longer as expensive as they are, and wealthy interests do not impede the preferences of the majority of the American public.  – Identify potential reforms and strategies to mitigate the polarization of the federal judiciary. – Consider the repercussions of unchecked Executive power and ways to rebalance our separation of powers system. Authored by: .ugb-2769dac .ugb-team-member__item.ugb-team-member__item1 .ugb-team-member__image{background-image:url(https://13g3ug2c670s488b483ny6i5-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Maria-Yuan-Headshot-1024×1024.jpg)}.ugb-2769dac .ugb-team-member__item.ugb-team-member__item2 .ugb-team-member__image{background-image:url(https://13g3ug2c670s488b483ny6i5-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Anthony_Photo-1024×819.jpeg)}.ugb-2769dac .ugb-team-member__name{color:#ffffff !important}.ugb-2769dac .ugb-team-member__position{color:#ffffff !important}.ugb-2769dac .ugb-button.ugb-button–has-icon.ugb-button–has-icon svg{width:px;height:px}Maria YuanFounder, IssueVoterAnthony MarcumFellow, R Street Institute