Co-Chairs: A Healthier Democracy Can Help Heal What Ails Us

Unite America

Co-Chairs: A Healthier Democracy Can Help Heal What Ails Us 

The last week has dangerously stretched the seams of American society. As the country grows weary and divided in our battle against covid-19, the spotlight has been shined on a different kind of virus: racial injustice.

Protests across the country have given vent to understandable rage. Many are honorably mobilizing around the worthy cause of ending racism, but our political divisions seem to be growing. 

We should be coming together to fight a global pandemic. We should be united in the belief that an unarmed black man should not be suffocated by police officers, and in the fight against systemic racism. 

And yet here we are.

Our nation needs to heal. We need to restore faith that all Americans have voice and opportunity, and that our elected leaders are acting on our behalf. We need to give more voice to Americans, particularly communities of color, who feel powerless, unheard, and violated by our institutions. 

It took us a long time to get to this place, and it will take time to get to where we need to be. America’s racial injustices were woven into the fabric of the nation. They drove us to civil war.

The hyper-partisanship of our politics is more recent, but it has created a noxious brew: a deadly and socially-isolating epidemic; massive economic disruption; frustration with the level of economic and racial inequality; and, worst of all, a political system that does not seem capable of solving any of these challenges. 

Despair is unhelpful. Violence is wrong, dangerous, and counterproductive. Cynicism is cowardly. 

We must mend our political institutions if we are to begin healing our country.

We would like fast, easy solutions. There aren’t any.

Martin Luther King declared in 1957 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights.”

The ballot, it turns out, is not enough. The challenge for our time is to make the ballot count in ways that give voice to all Americans. The ballot must elect the kinds of people who are capable and willing to put aside partisanship to deal with our serious health, social, and economic challenges.

That is the work of the growing, non-partisan movement to put voters first.

We are advocating for the ability to vote from home, so that the electorate can be heard—during covid-19 and beyond. 

We are fighting against gerrymandering, so that our elected leaders represent and are accountable to the voters, not the political parties who draw self-serving electoral boundaries.

We are promoting ranked choice voting to ensure the outcomes of our elections truly represent the majority and to level the playing field for candidates outside of the political establishment.

We are supporting candidates in primaries—both Republican and Democrat—who are most likely to work constructively on real issues that should not divide us on party lines, such as criminal justice reform.

We are urging every concerned American to register to vote. It’s the most effective noise you can make right now.

To paraphrase Dr. King: give us a better, fairer electoral system so that our democracy can help heal with what ails us. 

Kathryn Murdoch is co-founder and president of Quadrivium. Shawn Riegsecker is the CEO and Founder of Centro. Charles Wheelan is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Dartmouth College. They are co-chairs of Unite America.

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