A new 6-page issue advisory titled A House Divided is available from the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) to download for free. The following is excerpted from the advisory.
What should we do to get the political system that we want? How should we begin to work together to solve our most urgent problems?
This issue advisory presents three options for deliberation, along with their drawbacks. Each option offers advantages as well as risks. If we regulate what people can say online, will we end up silencing voices we need to hear? Should we push politicians to compromise more often even if it means they must bend on their principles? Should we focus more power locally, or would that result in an unmanageable patchwork of conflicting rules governing many important areas of our lives?
Option One: Reduce dangerous, toxic talk.
The problem is that the way we talk is poisoning public life. The “outrage industry” rewards people for saying and doing the most extreme things. Public figures vie for attention on TV and online. Fringe groups feel empowered to spread their hate and conspiracy theories. The lines between news, opinion, and entertainment are erased. We don’t know whom to believe anymore. And if people say the “wrong thing,” they are attacked because they are not “politically correct.” We need to stop rewarding outrage and bring back common sense.
Option Two: Make fairer rules for politics and follow them.
The problem is that wealthy, powerful special interests game the political system, making it impossible to find compromise. The flood of money into campaigns and lobbying gives too much power to special interests. Political parties redraw congressional districts to their advantage, which means more partisanship in Washington. Elected officials leave Congress and join multimillion dollar lobbying firms, giving their clients access and power not available to ordinary people. It’s time to correct the flaws in our system that reward such extreme partisanship and to restore the tradition of compromise that has served this nation well.
Option Three: Take control and make decisions closer to home.
The problem is that our most important decisions are being made too far away from home. And when national government is embroiled in political infighting, problems go unsolved. It’s time to put decision-making back in the hands of people who live and work closely together, share goals and values, and can act quickly. Communities across the nation, frustrated by inaction in Washington, already are moving to address problems they’re familiar with at the ground level.
Click here to read more and to download the issue advisory.