Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)
As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.
As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.
Decrying polarization has become a way of impugning adversaries. Meanwhile, the political deadlock and resentment that polarization produces goes unaddressed. Ironic, right?
Commentators rarely say what they mean by polarization. But if Americans are to figure out how to combat it, they need to begin from a clear understanding of what polarization is.
My forthcoming book, "Overdoing Democracy," argues that polarization isn't about where you get your news or how politicians are divided – it's about how a person's political identity is wrapped up with almost everything they do.
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Balance of Power
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidates debate at the Fox Theater in Detroit.
Marcum is a governance fellow at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan, pro-free-market, public policy research organization.
July's Democratic presidential debates highlighted a number of important national issues. From health care to economic inequality, candidates offered many purported solutions. The vast majority of these ambitious plans, however, face a fundamental constitutional roadblock: Congress.
Without congressional support, plans such as Medicare for All or amending the Immigration Nationality Act are dead on arrival. Voters, candidates and media alike are well aware that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would prevent any such legislation from passing his chamber, and if Republicans take the House, the chances for passage are even slimmer.
But if you were completely unfamiliar with American civics, you might have assumed from watching the debates that a president's role is to make policy and lambaste Congress when it does not comply. But of course, all legislative power rests with Congress. Viewers of the debates would be better served by questions that illuminate the presidency's actual institutional roles. These responsibilities are vital for governing, but we often fail to press candidates about them until it is too late.