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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. Bring a Member of the Other Party Home for Joint Tours of Each Other's Districts or States 

What better way for members of Congress to build working relationships than joining together to tour each others' districts and home 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. Be a TEAM Leader! 

It shows wisdom to admit you don't have all the answers and it takes courage to ask for help. The Campaign for Courage offers three ways for members of Congress to rise above a "go it alone" attitude:


  • Enlist the best and brightest constituents—from all political viewpoints—to serve on Problem-Solving Committees to help craft solutions to our nation's challenges. 

  • Create an Integrity Council, made up of spiritual and ethical leaders, to provide support  for serving with integrity.

  • Convene 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. Take Time to Reflect

Effective and wise leaders know how important it is to periodically step back and reflect on why they are in office and what values they are committed to bringing to the task. It takes courage to make the time to do this. 

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7. Seek the Wisdom of Your Elders

A member of Congress could convene a council made up of those who have held the post in the past, showing their willingness to learn and leverage the skills of others. The council could provide support and insight, and help lead special initiatives.  

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8. Do or Die! 

Our political system has broken down to the point that results no longer seem to matter. Congress's approval rating barely tops 10%, yet incumbents win re-election over 90% of the time.  A true act of courage would be for a member of Congress to pledge to achieve results within a certain number of terms or step down from office - for instance, a pledge to setp down within six years if Congress has not achieved a balanced budget.      

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9. Be a Leader for Courage in Congress 

The Campaign for Courage will host weekend retreats for members of Congress to explore what courage in politics means to them, how to bring more of it to Congress, and develop action plans for how Congress can better address the nation's issues and rebuild a functioning democracy.

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

Members of Congress can hold an on-line vote for their constituents to decide which act(s) of courage they should undertake. What could be more courageous than giving your constituents a true voice?  

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