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Ten Simple Acts of Courage 

To Rebuild American Democracy

If every member of Congress performs at least one "Simple Act of Courage" we can begin to turn our faltering democracy around.  


1. Joint Tours of Each Other's Districts or States 

What better way for members of Congress to build working relationships than joining together with a member of the other party to tour each others' districts and states? It takes courage to meet on each other's turf. A new program is already making it happen.    

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2. Go Undercover to Learn About America's Challenges 

Conducting "undercover missions" to learn about the issues facing America - immigration, poverty, healthcare, jobs - will help members of Congress make better decisions for all Americans. Half of the Members of Congress are millionaires, far removed from the day to day lives of the average American. This is a way for a member of Congress to admit they can always learn.    

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3. Stand With the Troops on the Field of Battle on Congressional Tours of Duty  

What more honorable way for a member of Congress to show their support for our brave military men and women than to pledge: “If I vote for war I will go to war, joining the troops on the field of battle.” These special short-term Congressional missions would demonstrate national unity, provide valuable learning experiences, and instill a sense of courage to bring back to the halls of Congress.

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4. Involve Your Constituents

The best leaders know that leadership is a team effort. Imagine how much more effective members of Congress would be by creating:


  • Problem-Solving Committees of smart creative constituents to help craft solutions to the nation's problems. 

  • An Personal Integrity Council of spiritual and ethical leaders to help the member serve with integrity.

  • A Youth Advisory Council to bring the energy and ideas of the next generation into policymaking.   

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5. Reward Innovation 

Members of Congress could sponsor innovation contests offering financial rewards for the best solutions to our nation’s challenges. These contests are increasingly used by private companies to create breakthroughs. Even federal agencies are using them to create more effective approaches to their missions. Why not use them for the legislative process itself? Let's bring the creativity of America's entrepreneurial innovators into American politics! 

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6. Total Transparency

Members of Congress rarely disclose who they meet with and whether those individuals or organizations have given them money for their election campaigns. Don't constituents have the right to know this? We need members of Congress to have the courage to post their daily schedules online!    

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7. Focus on Solutions

Some members of Congress are working across the aisle to solve the nation's problems, such as the Problem Solvers Caucus, the Bipartisan Working Group, and the Civility and Respect Caucus. But less than one in five members of Congress participate. We need to have all members involved. 

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8. Do or Die! 

Our political system is so broken that results no longer seem to matter. Congress's approval rating barely tops 10%, yet incumbents win re-election over 90% of the time.  Truly courageous members of Congress  would set a clear specific goal for their time in office with a promise to step down if Congress fails to achieve that goal. This is the gold standard for political courage!     

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9. Stop the Endless Fighting!

Americans are sick and tired of the partisan fighting that is tearing our country apart, stoked by the media and by politicians themselves. It's time for members of Congress to embrace a new role, leading their constituents in celebrating what they have in common, respecting their differences, and finding ways to work together with common purpose.     

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10. Let Your Constituents Choose Your Act(s) of Courage 

Members of Congress can give their constituents a voice in deciding which act(s) of courage they should undertake. What could be more courageous than giving your constituents a say in how you do your job?  

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