While many members of Congress spent Thursday talking about impeachment, one House committee held a hearing on promoting congressional civility. Those two ideas may not seem likely to co-exist, but those who testified hold out hope that Congress can come out of the coming drama in better shape.
"There is an overarching question we have to engage," Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, told the House Committee on the Modernization of Congress. "Are we facing a crisis in a democracy that is durable and capable and up to the task? Or are we actually facing a crisis of democracy in an institution that's strained and brittle and at real risk?"
It remains to be seen what, if anything, a divided Congress can accomplish in the midst of an impeachment inquiry. But, he noted, it somehow functioned under similar situations in the past.
Traditionally, voter registration and turnout drives go right for the moral argument.
Registering to vote and going to the polls is your obligation in a democracy, the organizers plead. People have died to make it possible for us to vote. And, of course, every vote counts so yours could decide the election.
Noble thoughts, all, but the relatively poor turnout through the years — including just north of 30 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 in last year's hard-fought midterm — argues for a different approach. Maybe one as truly American, if in a totally different way, as the appeals to duty and civic pride.
Think teams. And competition. And, best of all, prizes.
Agreement this week at an international meeting on postal rates should remove any concerns about potentially outrageous costs for mailing ballots to and from American citizens living overseas.
Election officials had grown increasingly worried following the Trump administration's threat to withdraw in October from the Universal Postal Union, a group of nearly 200 nations that governs international postal rates. Such a move would have made it both difficult and costly for Americans living abroad to mail home their ballots.
But at a special meeting this week in Geneva, the countries involved in the UPU reached an agreement to address concerns by the United States and others regarding the lower rates that China was being charged.
Nothing seems to work smoothly when it comes to elections in North Carolina. Just this year, for example, ballot fraud mandated the rare do over of a congressional election and the courts ordered yet another remapping of gerrymandered political boundaries.
Now comes another problem: The potential failure to properly certify new election systems.
Academics, advocates and some members of the state Board of Elections have questioned whether the board has properly reviewed the source code and security capabilities for three election systems, particularly the ExpressVote machines produced by ES&S, reports WRAL.
Scholars Joshua Dyck and Edward Lascher, Jr. argue that the use of ballot initiatives increases Americans' distrust in government and that more democracy isn't necessarily better democracy. On Friday, we will publish an opposing view: that ballot initiatives are good for the United States.
Joined by leading figures from journalism, politics, and academia, this conference will explore how polarization is driving Americans into competing and antagonistic tribes. We will examine the history of tribalism, its impacts on politics, and what role the media should play.