We're back | Three Things Thursday

Unite America

Can you believe it? We’re back! After a quick break (... and a violent insurrection, an impeachment, AND an inauguration) we’re back with Three Things Thursday, our weekly breakdown of things that matters in the world of reform. 

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks (in which we’ve done a bit of reflection and reckoning with ourselves) and there are probably three hundred things we could talk about this week, but I’ll try to limit myself. 

Here are three things you should read: 

  1. New Year, new season for reform

It’s a new year, and across the country, elected officials are taking up the mantle of reform. Of course, in addition to reform, there’s a host of other big ticket items to deal with, including ongoing discussion about how to best handle the pandemic — both for their state, and themselves. 

In Virginia, where the session kicked off earlier this month, session will look a little bit different than it has in years past. For instance, legislators aren’t even meeting in the capitol building. Instead, to abide by social distancing requirements, senators are meeting down the road in the Science Museum of Virginia (where they can distance more easily). Meanwhile, Delegates will be meeting over Zoom. 

The setting may look a bit different, but the legislative priorities remain. Over on Unite Virginia, read more about what these legislators need to accomplish during their session. We’ll be watching, and we encourage you to stay up to date too. Make sure to sign up for updates from Unite Virginia. 

  1. Remember, bad incentives drive bad outcomes

If you’re looking for a fresh inspiration and call to action for your reform resolutions in the new year, look no further. Unite America board member Katherine Gehl, author of The Politics Industry, gave a TEDx talk over the holidays that outlines the simple, nonpartisan reforms that have the power to switch the incentives of our political system. 

As Gehl puts it, the trouble with Washington and our politics today isn’t that it’s broken — rather, politics are fixed. “Most of the rules in politics are designed and continuously fine-tuned by and for the benefit of private, gain-seeking organizations,” Gehl argues.

The rules of the game create incentives. The incentives, in turn, drive the behaviors of politicians and those around them. If we want elected officials who act independently to represent us, we have to change the way we elect them. Watch the full video here:

  1. Let’s end on a good note

Not sure if you heard, but there was an inauguration yesterday. After much chaos and the threat of violence, America witnessed another peaceful transfer of power, as has happened for over two hundred years in our nation’s history. There’s a lot that could be said about the speeches, the ceremony, or the historic nature of what was accomplished, but the best articulation may come from the 22-year old poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, whose poem “The Hill We Climb” captured the zeitgeist. 

“If we're to live up to our own time, then victory won't lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we've made. That is the promise to glade the hill we climb. If only we dare it's because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it.

In the last few weeks, we have overcome divisions unlike any our generation has ever known. The American project demands we keep building and keep repairing. And so we climb and repair. 

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