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1.6.20 – Statement on the Anti-Democratic Events of Jan. 6th
As a country, we cannot continue descent into hyper-partisan politics.
San Francisco, CA — BridgeUSA unequivocally condemns the violence and attempts to overturn the voice of the American people which occurred in the U.S. Capitol. The armed occupation of the People’s House, incited by the words of political leaders, was entirely unprecedented in modern America. For the first time since 1860, America is not witnessing a peaceful transfer of power.
However, we must acknowledge that the day’s events were on track with where our polarized country has been headed for years. Our citizenry and our politicians have been descending into two markedly different tribes, with two divergent realities. As a result, we have lost our shared identity and values as Americans.
What transpired on January 6th, 2021 will undoubtedly live in infamy, both for the events which unfolded, but also for the response that we choose as a country. This can either be the start of a new dire reality of politics, composed of greater inter-party violence and demagogue leaders, or it can be the new beginning of a more empathetic and cooperative America. The easy decision would be to not change our course and descend deeper into hyper-polarization. But January 6th has proven that further division of our country is unsustainable.
Though it will be tough to overcome the institutional and social barriers inhibiting our country from regaining our common identity as Americans, it is this course that we must choose. Our civic fabric has frayed so thin, that we must relearn the importance of a basic unit of our democracy: conversation. Politicians and everyday citizens alike must take it upon themselves to find empathy for those with whom they disagree, and to refrain from using incendiary rhetoric meant to divide us.
We as a country cannot stand when the only thing uniting us is our hostility towards one other.
11.7.20 – Four Elected Officials to join A Starting Point and BridgeUSA in Post-Election Forum
San Francisco, CA —A Starting Point (ASP) and BridgeUSA have teamed up with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Former Governor John Kasich (R-OH), and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) for a national post-election student forum called “Burst Your Bubble” on November 10th at 8pm ET. Senator Kaine and Governor Kasich will answer student questions about college affordability and reducing student loan debt, and Congresswoman Chu and Congressman Johnson will debate if we should eliminate the electoral college.
During the one-hour, live-streamed event, student attendees will also join small discussion groups to engage in BridgeUSA moderated discussions about the election. These groups will be regionally and ideologically diverse so students have the opportunity to learn from each other about lived experiences, and build empathy for those with whom they disagree.
“Our mission is to empower young people and equip universities with the tools needed to foster civic engagement,” said BridgeUSA CEO Manu Meel. “Focusing on students to inform and engage them in productive ways will foster grassroots alliances to improve our politics.”
“We are proud to work with BridgeUSA to help young Americans engage with their lawmakers, practice civility, and have constructive conversations about politics with their peers from all backgrounds,” said Mark Kassen, co-founder of ASP.
The University of California Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, which represents the entire University of California network of ten campuses, will sponsor the forum. Upwards of 25 universities have joined with ASP and BridgeUSA to make the event possible, with the understanding that viewpoint diversity and productive political engagement are important to campuses post-election.
10.20.20 – A Starting Point, BridgeUSA to co-host a national, bipartisan student discussion
San Francisco, CA — A Starting Point (ASP) and BridgeUSA have partnered with university systems across the nation to offer college students a unique forum to exchange their thoughts on the election and hear from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about today’s issues.
During a one-hour, live-streamed event on November 10, attendees will hear from congressional leaders about college affordability and watch a debate on if we should eliminate the electoral college. Attendees will also join smaller discussion groups selected for their ideological and regional diversity, to engage in a BridgeUSA moderated discussion about the election.
“As young people, we know that the 2020 election will have significant implications for our futures, and we are coming together as a generation to discuss what happens next,” said Manu Meel, CEO of BridgeUSA. “The Post-Election Discussion will provide a starting point for young people to bridge their differences, connect with students across the country, and practice constructive political discourse.”
“ASP is excited to work with BridgeUSA to help further our commitment to connecting young Americans with their elected officials,” said Mark Kassen, co-founder of ASP.
This student-focused forum provides a constructive venue for students to hear from elected officials on both sides of the political aisle, then understand each other’s positions, learn from different perspectives, and ultimately identify common ground upon which progress can be built.
Bridge in the News
“Although still in the minority, a growing contingent of students from the left, right and center is ditching tactics that lead to internecine hostility in favor of talking with one another to build empathy.
BridgeUSA and Sustained Dialogue are two prime examples of campus organizations committed to confronting political polarization.”Read More
“The ideal college campus welcomes students from a range of ideological perspectives and offers opportunities for those students to come together to productively explore topics, problems, and questions.
BridgeUSA …is one leading student organization dedicated to facilitating constructive political discussion.”Read More
Our campuses should not be viewed as a lost cause. The throngs of students who have attended and participated in Better Angels and BridgeUSA programs are testimony to students’ thirst for discourse.Read More
Second, stakeholders must have access to, or be willing to create, effective strategies for enacting these values. For students, this could mean forming or participating in BridgeUSA chapters or related initiativesRead More
“As partisan divides continue to rock Congress – and add to a contentious and bitter presidential race – more and more students have said ‘enough.’
But at least two student groups, one at the University of Colorado-Boulder the other at Notre Dame University are trying to bridge the divide through an emerging field of political thought called transpartisanship.“Read More
“Lots of people are alarmed and exhausted by the polarization industry and are fed up with it. Many are becoming aware that their buttons are being pushed and their brains are being hacked.
More are resolving to do something about it by forming civic efforts with names like Better Angels, Bridge the Divide, BridgeUSA, Living Room Conversations, and the Listen First Project.“Read More
After reading the article and researching the tremendously necessary initiative BridgeUSA is undertaking, I reached out to Amanda to applaud the work that the organization is doing as well as to offer my help with their efforts in whatever way they see fit.Read More
ASU is also home to BridgeASU, one of the first chapters of BridgeUSA,… BridgeASU hosts events such as a round-robin discussion that drew 175 people interested in hearing fresh perspectives on a range of political topics.Read More
Another method is to expose students to different perspectives – which can be a challenge in orthodox environments. … Other organizations like BridgeUSA are seeking to create communities and spaces where conversations can happen that help people identify with those with whom they disagree politically.Read More
Leadership Now has helped drive funding from business leaders to organizations like the Center for Responsive Politics, the Voter Participation Center and BridgeUSA. The funding was committed by members of the Leadership Now Project, an organization comprised largely of business leaders that helps channel strategic investment in the political reform space.Read More
Students are forming new clubs, reviving old ones, launching bipartisan journals and organizing events.
It’s happening across the country at campuses large and small, public and private …getting a boost from organizations like BridgeUSA, which started in 2016 at Notre Dame and the University of Colorado Boulder (and whose chapter at the University of California, Berkeley, began after violent protests around a planned visit by Milo Yiannopoulos in 2017).Read More
EarthxUniversity will bring university students affiliated with BridgeUSA together with influencers from business, government, and academia. The two-day assembly will bridge the political divide impeding constructive political action.Read More