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Books and Articles


Why is Political Courage So Rare? The obstacles preventing politicians from taking a stand.

March 12, 2018. Charles Edel, Washington Post

Congress Isn’t Perfect but the Politicians Aren’t Always to Blame:  But whether it’s money, maps, media, mingling or masochism, there are no easy solutions. Nor are they entirely the responsibility of the politicians to address.”

Nathan Gonzales, Roll Call.

How American Politics Went Insane: It happened gradually—and until the U.S. figures out how to treat the problem, it will only get worse. 

July/August 2016. Jonathan Rauch, Atlantic Magazine.

Freshman Lawmakers Say Civility Pledge Challenging But Worth It: In January, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., authored a pledge asking freshman members of Congress to be civil toward each other. Nearly every freshman lawmaker signed it. In this video, Heard on the Hill reporter Alex Gangitano speaks to Johnson, and other members of Congress who signed the pledge, about how their first year went.



From Oath to Action: Simple Acts of Courage to Rebuild American Democracy

Jeff Edelstein, 2016

From Oath to Action was the spark for the creation of the Campaign for Courage, presenting a bold, yet achievable, pathway to rebuilding American democracy. The book challenges our very understanding of what political leadership looks like in today's world. Our democratic institutions need repairing—on that most Americans would agree. But institutions change only when the people in them change, and most people change only one step at a time. Therein lies the path forward. We don’t need politicians who will “fix Washington.” We need politicians who will fix themselves, one simple act of courage at a time. From Oath to Action suggests twelve acts of courage that can transform American politics. The book provides a roadmap to courageous action for leaders and citizens alike.


The Fabric of Character

Anne Snyder, 2019


This book offers powerful ideas for any institution aiming to foster its internal character, through inspirational stories of institutional exemplars operating today, and a powerful set of 16 questions that can be used to evaluate any organization. What is character and how do you shape it? This question has preoccupied parents, teachers, clergy and leaders since the beginning of time. But it takes on vital importance in our era. While the complexity and autonomy of life in the 21st century call for character more than ever, the conditions under which such character is forged are in trouble. How do we replenish the store of moral capital in such a diverse, individualistic, consumerist and stressed society? How do we usher in a shared appetite for the good?

DARING DEMOCRACY: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want

Frances Moore Lappé, Beacon Press, 2017

Even in this divisive time, Americans are uniting across causes and ideologies to create a “canopy of hope” the authors call the Democracy Movement. In this invigorating “movement of movements,” millions of Americans are leaving despair behind as they push for and achieve historic change. The movement and democracy itself are vital to us as citizens and fulfill human needs—for power, meaning, and connection—essential to our thriving. In this timely and necessary book, Lappé and Eichen offer proof that courage is contagious in the daring fight for democracy.


The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide

Mark Gerzon, 2017

In this era of poisonous partisanship, The Reunited States of America is a lifesaving antidote. At a time when loyalty to a party seems to be overpowering love of country, it not only explains how we can bridge the partisanship divide but also tells the untold story of how our fellow citizens already are doing it. This book, a manifesto for a movement to reunite America, will help us put a stop to the seemingly endless Left-Right fistfight while honoring the vital role of healthy political debate. Mark Gerzon describes how citizens all over the country-Republicans, Democrats, and Independents- are finding common ground on some of the most divisive and difficult issues we face today.


A Declaration of Independents: How We Can Break the Two-Party Stranglehold and Restore the American Dream

Greg Orman, 2017

In 2014, Greg Orman made headlines with his historic Independent run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas. Voters gravitated to Orman's campaign in unprecedented numbers, challenging the entrenched dominance of the two major parties over American politics. In A Declaration of Independents Orman makes a persuasive case that without fundamental change, our standard of living, our status in the world, and the very existence of the middle class are at risk. Drawing on his own journey to political independence, Orman lays out a plan for taking back our government by rejecting party politics and embracing a new Independent approach.


Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home

Susan Clark, Woden Teachout, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012

Reconnecting with the sources of decisions that affect us, and with the processes of democracy itself, is at the heart of 21st-century sustainable communities. Slow Democracy chronicles the ways in which ordinary people have mobilized to find local solutions to local problems. It invites us to bring the advantages of “slow” to our community decision making. Just as slow food encourages chefs and eaters to become more intimately involved with the production of local food, slow democracy encourages us to govern ourselves locally with processes that are inclusive, deliberative, and citizen powered.


Bringing Citizen Voices to the Table: A Guide for Public Managers

Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Jossey-Bass, 2013

This important resource offers seven field-tested strategies for public managers to help them maximize citizen engagement as they implement the President's Open Government Directive. The Core Strategies for Citizen Engagement are: Establish Links to Decision-Makers; Ensure Demographic Diversity; Create Opportunities for Informed Participation; Maximize Tools of Facilitated Deliberation; Discover Shared Priorities; Establish Clear Recommendations for Action; and Sustain Citizen Engagement. The book includes project and leadership case studies from major federal agencies that elucidate the seven strategies in the context of real-world issues and challenges.

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