VOX POPULI NEWSLETTER
Our New Series in The Fulcrum Highlights Common Ground of the People
Voice of the People has launched a new series in partnership with The Fulcrum called “Tapping the Common Sense” focusing on policy proposals that garner support from majorities of Republican and Democratic voters. The Fulcrum is a media platform where insiders and outsiders to politics are informed, meet, talk and act to repair U.S. democracy. The Federal government has failed to address many problems facing our nation, largely due to increasing partisan polarization that results in near-constant gridlock. Some speculate this polarization is a reflection of the American public. However, what we have found in our Common Ground of the American People project is that majorities of Republicans and Democrats actually agree on numerous policies – nearly 200 proposals so far.
First, the series takes on the issue of immigration, one of the most contentious areas of partisan head-butting in Congress over the last decade. In the national debate, each side has seemingly opposite and mutually exclusive priorities and solutions. Among the public, however, the story is quite different. There is substantial bipartisan agreement on a number of major proposals on immigration. Read here to learn more.
Presidential Centers Call for Protection Of Democracy
In a recent joint statement, thirteen presidential centers have called for greater civility, respect, and protection of democracy in political discourse, amid concerns over deepening national polarization in the United States. The coalition urged elected officials to lead by example and “govern effectively in ways that deliver for the American people.” The statement was signed by various presidential foundations, including the Carter Center and the Obama Foundation.
The centers are urging all Americans to come together and find common ground on various issues, including dealing with political polarization, economic inequality, and climate change. The statement is a reminder that our democracy is fragile and must be protected, and is a call to action for all Americans to work towards a better future together.
Ireland’s Citizen Assembly on Drugs Completes Deliberation
Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use has completed its consideration of the issues surrounding drug use in Ireland and will reconvene later in October to finalize its recommendations. The proposals of the representative sample of citizens will be presented to the Oireachtas, Ireland’s parliament, by the end of the year. The process included a wide range of contributors speaking about drug abuse prevention and education, as well as community resilience and public health.
The Citizens’ Assembly also included a discussion on funding for drug treatment and other proposals for Ireland’s national drug policy. Chair of the Citizens’ Assembly, Paul Reid, formerly of Ireland’s Health Service, said Assembly members have now heard a collective 180 hours of discussion about all aspects of drug use in Ireland. Members will now receive draft recommendations to consider and will proceed to vote on these at the next meeting at the end of this month.
To learn more about America’s substance use crisis and consider proposals under consideration, try out our policymaking simulation on substance use disorders.
Study: Legislators More Likely to Vote with Constituents When Informed of Opinion
A Yale study conducted in New Mexico shed light on the relationship between legislators and public opinion of their constituents. The study, which was a randomized field experiment, surveyed over 10,000 New Mexicans about the Governor’s spending proposals for a special summer session in 2008. The results of the district-specific survey were then shared with a randomly selected half of the legislature.
What the study found was that the legislators who received their district-specific survey results were significantly more likely to vote in line with constituent opinion than those who did not. This study suggests that legislators are responsive to public opinion when given solid information about constituent beliefs. It also highlights the importance of informing legislators about public opinion on matters that affect their constituents before relevant votes. At a time when the relationship between legislators and the public is under scrutiny, this study provides valuable insights into how better communication and information sharing can lead to a more representative democracy.
Put yourself in the shoes of policymakers by trying our policymaking simulation on U.S. immigration policy. In this simulation, you’ll get a briefing about the issue, learn the arguments for and against different proposals for dealing with immigration, and determine your recommendation. Once you finish the simulation, you’ll have a chance to send your recommendation to your Congresspeople.