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“Civic Design is a practice that focuses on the common good outcomes of our communities by pulling upon all of the institutional tools in our communities, beyond our traditional sole focus on government alone. Regulating our communities into better health and prosperity, writ large, is more than passing laws and warring over angry left vs. right politics. We cannot afford that type of narrow thinking anymore, and that is more than a mere financial commentary. We simply cannot afford to be that uncreative in these historically dynamic times.
— Nate Garvis, Author of Naked Civics: Strip Away the Politics to Build a Better World
“There is a pack mentality among legislators who often turn to trendy and untested ideas and the need for quick fixes. The power of money in politics, partisanship, special interest pressures, and sometimes simply ideology or even blindness to the facts all contribute to situations where so-called new ideas are really recycled old ones already proven to have failed."
— David Schultz, Author of American Politics in the Age of Ignorance: Why Lawmakers Choose Belief over Research (read some)
Nate Garvis and Prof. David Schultz – who might not agree on what each might define as the “common good” or on the role many of our cultural institutions play in our lives (or should) – find themselves, if we’re reading them correctly, not far from each other’s positions on many of the fundamental problems facing American politics today.
Does ignorance of science, the basics of history and the social construct Schultz sees operating in the setting of repeated policy failures in an a nation that purports to be a democracy feed into the increasing anger and increasingly un-civil debate Garvis describes as the very un-creative means by which we govern ourselves in this age?
These two active Minnesota political commentators, one immersed more in the academic sphere than the maelstrom of commerce from which emerges the other (Garvis) are clearly more than a little frustrated by the tenor of the political climate in their two, relatively recent, books on the how citizenship and public policy play out in this 21st Century of rampant informational resources and public platforms where – and this is one question Schulz poses – politicians may or may not be as angry as they come off, depending on whether one is pandering to an electorate already seething over a variety of issues made worse by an unwillingness to accept science and history and fact as the basis for political judgments. Then again, those same political aspirants may well hold those values and beliefs as deeply as their audiences. But, what does that say, then about the politicians’ preparedness for public office?
That said, then, how can Nate Garvis’ own frustration over partisanship be resolved when the anger he decries may be rooted in the necessary polarization to justify the ignorance Schultz has observed?
Listeners get a chance to hear what may well be a heady conversation among us political junkies over the historical and future role of education, emotion and practical politics on voting behavior and public policymaking during this time of unceasing political turmoil, fed by either a complacent or voracious media monster, depending on which head is currently dominant.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI try to dissect these different ideas for civic engagement – which is our mission and that of our parent, CivicMedia/Minnesota – and see where the have a meeting of the minds and where they digress.