McIntosh is president of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, a Colorado think tank focused on the cultural roots of America's political problems, and author of the new book: "Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow Into a Better Version of Itself" (Paragon House).
Vox co-founder Ezra Klein's new book, "Why We're Polarized," has helped refocus the nation's attention on the forces dividing our society. While the debate continues over which of the many contributing factors are most decisive, all commentators agree that hyperpolarization is an existential threat to American democracy.
Our constitutional system was designed with compromise as its cornerstone. But compromise has now become a dirty word. Over the last few decades, the focus of American politics has shifted from a relatively civil contest over issues and policy to a bitter battle over morality and identity.
Organizer: Open Gov Hub
Finding common ground is hard, but is it worth the struggle? You could be on a date, in a work meeting, at a town hall event, or inside a spaceship full of hungry aliens. When multiple agendas mix, identifying a clear solution may seem impossible. Lucky for us, group tension also makes the perfect ingredient for a game. And a great tool as we head into the contentious election season in the U.S. Join Game Genius, creators of Consensus, for a fun workshop at Open Gov Hub where we'll tackle the issue of polarization through play and explore the flexibility of custom games.
Location: OpenGov Hub, 1110 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC
Gerzon is president of Mediators Foundation, which incubates projects in the the democracy reform community that promote bridge-building and collaboration. His most recent book is "The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide" (Berrett-Koehler, 2016)
At birth, my grandson Isaiah's cry pierced the air. Later, as I held him in my arms, I wept with joy. As I gently placed him on his mother's belly he started nursing; his father leaned over and cradled them both. It was an unforgettable sight: a light man's arm, holding a dark woman's arm, cradling a baby the color of ... beauty.
That's the moment it struck me: My grandson was not in the white club. This sweet innocent child, now a witty 12-year-old, would be called African-American — or "black." His actual skin color is Sicilian, or perhaps Armenian, both now legally considered "white." But because his mother's side is West African (with a trace of Cherokee), he won't be allowed in the club. He will have to check a different box — and so the lie continues.
If the democracy reform movement is to make a paradigm shift on race, we have work to do — not just on our society, but for those among us who are "white." Too many of us still have a racial mindset that is obsolete and, despite our best intentions, part of the problem.
We live in a society in which civil discourse and political decision-making capacity are deteriorating quickly and uncomfortably. We experience this erosion in obvious ways through hyper-partisan politics, toxic media and social media, and even day-to-day interactions with colleagues, friends, and family. Civic Health Project aims to reduce polarization and foster healthier discourse and decision-making across citizenry, politics and media.