The goal of the State of American Democracy Project is to help deepen and broaden the present conversation about democracy and connect it to effective action to repair and strengthen democratic institutions. It is neither conservative nor liberal, but aims rather to advance the restoration of respect for the rules of tolerance, fairness, and equality before the law that are the sine qua nonof democracy. Much of the work ahead requires repairing institutions, “habits of heart,” and political culture that have atrophied over many decades. Important parts of the work ahead, however, will require new thinking about governance, politics, and policy to meet the challenges of the “long emergency” posed by a destabilizing climate, loss of species, and the cascading effects of ecological systems failure that will threaten food and energy systems and thereby governments, economies, and domestic tranquility.
The State of American Democracy initiative began with a conference at Oberlin College in November 2017 featuring 32 speakers and panelists including Jane Mayer, Tim Egan, and William Barber. Our goal was to clarify the historic and institutional origins of the election of 2016 and the breakdown in governance, civility, and fairness that transcends party politics. The second phase of the work through the election of 2020 focuses on repairing and strengthening democratic institutions to serve the aims of justice, fairness, prosperity, and resilience.