The Atlantic

How Civic Obligations, Education, and Federalism Can Save America

Three observers of American politics fear deepening division and polarization, and offer different proscriptions for the best way forward.
Source: Hannah Mckay / Reuters

For Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, the best, most succinct description of democratic values comes from the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal. “Living this value, and protecting democracy to foster and further it, is always going to be difficult in practice,” he wrote. “But I believe the continued story of America has been one of hard-fought progress, and that every step toward progress, fairness, and equality is worth fighting for.”

As he sees it, the difficulty of fulfilling our promise and potential is partly due to the fact that “while these rights are ‘inalienable,’ they are not inevitable.” As he sees it, “it takes courage and compassion to continuously create the kind of democracy we want.”

These are the obligations he believes that all of us have:

All of us have to participate, and stay informed and engaged

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