Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century

Publication date: 
July, 2020
American Academy of Arts & Sciences

A new report by a bipartisan commission created two years ago by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, outlines steps to strengthen and reform American democracy. Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, is a timely report given the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the civic turmoil of the nationwide protests for racial justice. The report's six broad strategies are: culture of shared commitment; connected communities; equal voice, equal representation; empowered voters; responsive government; social media with common purpose. Among the 31 recommendations are: 

  • Expand the House of Representatives (and therefore the Electoral College) by at least fifty members.
  • Institute universal voting and instant voter registration for all eligible Americans.
  • Establish an expectation of national service by all Americans.
  • Limit Supreme Court justices to 18-year terms.
  • Reduce the influence of big money in politics.

The commission chairs are Danielle Allen (Harvard University), Stephen Heintz (Rockefeller Brothers Fund), and Eric Liu (Citizen University). The 32 members include Martha McCoy, executive director of the Hartford-based Everyday Democracy, a national organization striving to help communities work equitably and inclusively to build a strong democracy. "The Commission worked for two years, across divides, across disciplines, and across the country," said McCoy. "We met with people and heard them talk about their hopes and concerns, and the opportunities and barriers they experience. The recommendations ... represent an ambitious and doable roadmap to a democracy that works for all – one that is inclusive, representative, and responsive." Read more >>  

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