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Civic Health Project

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.

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"To sustain the moral posture that democracy demands, we must refuse to see partisan affiliation as the defining trait of our fellow citizens," argues Robert Talisse.

Democracy demands moral citizenship. Is it too much for us?

Talisse is a philosophy professor at Vanderbilt University.

Democracy is hard work. If it is to function well, citizens must do a lot of thinking and talking about politics. But democracy is demanding in another way as well. It requires us to maintain a peculiar moral posture toward our fellow citizens. We must acknowledge that they're our equals and thus entitled to an equal say, even when their views are severely misguided. It seems a lot to ask.

To appreciate the demand's weight, consider that a citizen's duty is to promote justice. Accordingly, we tend to regard our political opposition as being not merely on the wrong side of the issues, but on an unjust side. Citizens of a democracy must pursue justice while also affirming that their fellow citizens are entitled to equal power even when they favor injustice. What's more, citizens are obligated to acknowledge that, under certain conditions, it is right for government to enact their opposition's will. This looks like a requirement to be complicit with injustice. That's quite a burden.

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Courtesy Katie Fahey

"We have invited, and want to have, all voices at the table," says Lisa Nash.

The Fahey Q&A with Lisa Nash, leading a new movement in the first primary state

Having organized last year's grassroots movement ending Michigan's politicized gerrymandering, Fahey is now executive director of The People, which is forming statewide networks to promote government accountability. She interviews a colleague in the world of democracy reform each month for our Opinion section.

Lisa Nash, a Democrat who lost a close state House race last year, and former Republican state Rep. Terry Wolf are the dynamic force behind The People's incredible New Hampshire leadership team. They just pulled off a three-day, five-city statewide kickoff tour where we heard from some incredible Granite Staters of all stripes.

As the tour ended, I spoke with Lisa about our time on the road and about what it's like to be one of those people who jumps into action and helps her community regardless of anyone's personal politics.

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