Waag has been national volunteer coordinator for the multifaceted democracy reform group Unite America and is treasurer of a group promoting a switch to ranked-choice voting in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla.
Before this global coronavirus pandemic and its resulting American economic suffocation, political philanthropy to fix and reform both our elections and our governmental institutions was already severely lacking but very much needed.
The entire democracy reform movement, with more than 130 organizations, raises approximately $150 million in contributions every year. The two major parties raise a combined $4 billion from their donors every year — in other words, more than 25 times as much. That's a lot of Davids not even coming close to two very big Goliaths.
In other words, before the arrival of Covid-19 changed almost everything about daily life in our country, almost everyone — wealthy individuals, big businesses and small-dollar donors — was continuing to double down on the two tired old parties, in spite of so many of their gripes and complaints about the failings of political life under the duopoly.
As life continues to evolve during the coronavirus outbreak, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund has created an online hub where democracy reformers can keep up with the latest news and resources. Its Covid-19 resource packet compiles information from various alliance members to help support the community during the pandemic.
The Bridge Alliance is a coalition of about 100 organizations spanning the ideological spectrum and working to improve aspects of American democracy.
Uriel Epshtein is executive director of the Renew Democracy Initiative, created three years ago by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov to combat populism, promote core constitutional values and offer a home to political centrists. He came to the job after stints at the Boston Consulting Group, DoorDash and Uber. As a Yale undergraduate, he founded and continues to chair the Peace & Dialogue Leadership Initiative, which promotes campus college dialogues on policy in the Middle East. That experience had a profound influence on him, he says, as he began to see increasing similarity between polarized partisan U.S. politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What's the tweet-length description of your organization?
RDI produces content with the goal of empowering the American public to understand and prioritize core constitutional principles.
Tirado is an assistant professor of secondary social science education at Auburn University. A version of this piece was first published by Education Week.
It is safe to say that social distancing has become part of our new daily lexicon. It's important to know that this is saving people's lives. But we all must recognize that, in this world of social distancing, we do not need to continue our practice of spectator democracy that keeps us sitting on the sidelines while others make the important decisions for us.
In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing is a form of civic duty, something we are doing to protect the most vulnerable of our society. We've given up March Madness for social media tags like #stayhome and #stayhomesavelives that build solidarity around our shared stories of staying in.
And while we think about what we've lost, we are hoping that we can hold on to something much more important: each other.