Every child and adult in the United States, regardless of location or demographics, should develop a deep understanding of—and appreciation for—our constitutional democracy. Their learning should be grounded in an understanding of how to discern high quality information. These learners of all ages are the stewards of our country’s political traditions, deliberative culture, public institutions and sense of mutual obligation.
Service cultivates citizens. Service compels young people out of their comfort zones, allowing them to serve alongside people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs toward a shared goal. Through service and volunteering, individuals also build skills for future careers—an understanding of others, the dignity of work and discipline, a sense of personal agency to effect change, and an ability to work in teams. Making national service an expectation—a new American rite of passage from youth to adulthood—will renew and redefine for this generation the role of citizens in our democracy, promote an understanding of rights and responsibilities, and cultivate the leaders that our communities and nation need to tackle our toughest challenges across our differences.
America is trapped in a destructive loop of toxic polarization, in which reflexive “us vs them” thinking is weaponized by purveyors of disinformation, division, extremism, and hate. We must break this loop to restore our relationships, rebuild communities, and renew democracy. Finding a way out requires no more—and no less—than empowering millions of Americans to reject toxic division and embrace civic bridging.
Fair, credible, and trustworthy elections—whose results are respected by winners and losers alike— are the bedrock of a democratic society. Elections are made possible by a consensus on shared rules and a shared commitment to self-government, ensuring the predictable and peaceful transfer of power. Whether elected or appointed, government officials should serve the public trust on behalf of all Americans. Promoting fair, inclusive, transparent, and responsive governance ensures that Americans have confidence in the democratic system’s ability to co-create with citizens solutions to the most pressing problems of our time, while also addressing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.
All Americans should have ready access to trusted news sources that provide high-quality, non-partisan, accurate, and reliable information and coverage of news at the local, state, and national levels. Through promoting high-quality and verifiable information and curtailing the intentional or unintentional spread of harmful and inaccurate information, Americans will be able to engage in democratic debate and disagreement on the basis of shared truths and understanding.