It's time to hit our political asteroid
What does NASA’s recent DART Mission and the election reform movement have in common? They both have the momentum to change the trajectory of powerful entities. And, if they meet their targets correctly, they could alter the course of history.
In case you missed it, the goal of the DART spacecraft was to hit and subsequently shift a sizable asteroid — that posed no threat to Earth, thankfully — off its path. Scientists have suggested that a mission such as this one could one day serve to protect us from a direct asteroid hit.
Our current primary election system has its own kind of astronomical consequences: it limits voters’ choices and voices, which breeds worsening political dysfunction and dangerous social unrest. If our system is left on its current trajectory, it could lead to catastrophic outcomes for our nation.
So, while we haven’t quite hit our “political asteroid” just yet, here are three things to think about this week to change the current trajectory of our democracy:
1. (Some of) Congress is working to prevent a repeat of January 6th with the passing of the Election Reform Act
The January 6, 2021, insurrection of the U.S. Capitol is a defining moment in U.S. history — an event that left the future of our nation and our elections on the brink of uncertainty. The events of that day put the political dysfunction and need for election reform in the limelight for the rest of the nation to see — the insidious outcomes of the Primary Problem playing out before our eyes. In part, due to calls on Congress to take action from reform advocates, a group of bipartisan lawmakers worked together to bring the Election Reform Act to the floor, which passed the House this week after being introduced by Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming (R) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) of California. (Over in the Senate, another bipartisan working group has produced its own draft, increasing the possibility that the legislation will ultimately be enacted.)
This is tangible progress that Unite America actively supports alongside our allies at Issue One, Bipartisan Policy Center, among others. And while, in a way, it’s symptom relief as the cause of the country’s political and social animosity run deeper and more is required for lasting change, this progress demonstrates the power of what we can accomplish when lawmakers put country before party. Defending the integrity of our elections in the short-term is imperative if we’re going to renew and reform democracy in the long run.
2. The intersection of philanthropy and political reform is a recipe for success
This week, Laura Arnold, co-chair and co-founder of Arnold Ventures, joined Evan Smith, the CEO and co-founder of the Texas Tribune, to discuss her perspectives on how philanthropic investment can maximize opportunity, minimize injustice, and support meaningful political reform.
A growing sector of political philanthropy is a necessary catalyst to reform our primary system, and it is through the nonpartisan commitment of financial resources to organizations, campaigns, and candidates working within our political system that we will foster a more representative and functional government. Learn how this is already happening, thanks to people like Laura Arnold, by listening to her interview with Evan Smith here.
3. Understanding elections just got a whole lot easier
We get it — understanding how our elections work can be incredibly difficult and, at times, completely overwhelming. But thanks to our partners at Issue One, education surrounding elections just got a whole lot more accessible. This week, Issue One published a new digital guide on elections, “Faces of Democracy: How Our Elections Work and the Challenges Ahead,” which explains how U.S. elections work, what makes them free and fair, and the challenges that election administrators face in doing their work. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the election process and the threats to it, we highly suggest checking out their digital guide —and better yet, sharing it with your friends!
In closing, our thoughts are with Floridians as they weather the effects of the Hurricane Ian this week — stay safe and well.