For the First Time in this Blog I am Linking a Single Document – Read It

I Have Something for You

Regular readers know that I often make reference to other articles, documents, and videos, encouraging you to read them to learn more about the topic at hand. Today we take that a step further.

I am going to say very little about this document, except to say that I think it is extraordinary and well worth your time to peruse.  We are in a time of great turmoil and challenge in our country. One could be forgiven for asking, “What next? Where do we go from here?”

A Road Map for America

Allow me to introduce you to a just issued study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Published this month, Our Common Purpose is the result of two years of work by the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. This is their final report, suggesting in practical terms steps we may take as a nation to strengthen America’s institutions and civic culture in important ways, by 2026, America’s 250thbirthday.

This is not a pie in the sky document. It is based on solid thinking by 35 widely different commission members (I would have added a couple more with some additional experience, but that is a quibble) and conversations with our fellow citizens all around the country. The goal is to improve our democracy, to bring it closer to our ideals and to make it more resilient.

Can You Imagine a More Important Time for Such a Road Map to the Future?

It includes 31 recommendations in six strategies. As you would expect with so many recommendations, not everyone will be in agreement on all recommendations. There are, for example, a couple I feel do not go far enough and 1-2 with which I largely disagree. No matter. I would happily go along with all of it, to get most of it under way. were they to start this project now, more and different recommendations would likely come out. Never mind. This is a fine place for us to start.

We are in a time of remarkable challenge (the pandemic, a massive recession). This is a time of social turmoil (justice and social reform movements such as we have never seen). We see daily the unimaginable display of venality, corruption, and incompetence at the national political level, and sometimes more locally (November 3rd is 140 days away. Everything rides on what decision we make in this election).

And yet, all of that also means we are in a time of potentially remarkable change and transition. If we can pull this all together, America could make great strides toward living up to her ideals. We could be at a true turning point in history. Could be.

What is Inside

The study offers an impressively focused and useful set of goals and tasks to get us there. That it started two years ago and is here now is serendipity on a grand scale. It has six imperatives that sum up what must be done.:

1) To achieve equality of voice and representation through our p litical institutions

2) To empower voters in a lasting way

) To ensure the responsiveness of our political institutions;

4) To dramatically expand the capacity of civil society organizations that foster “bridging” across lines of difference;

5) To build civic information architecture that supports common purpose;

6) To inspire a culture of commitment to American constitutional democracy and one another.

Yes, 31 recommendations sounds like a lot of reading. It is not. The paper is well organized and laid out. It is readable. Do yourself a favor and take some time to read it. If after doing so you feel the same as I do about this paper, spread the word. Share the link. Then start thinking about what you can do to help bring some of this about.

A Foot Note

There are politicians out there today who have made it their mantra to denigrate education and learning. Papers like this remind you how foolish and evil such a mindset is. Harness a few good minds toward noble ends, and you get something like this document. May we have the wisdom to take their suggestions.


I am providing the document in both PDF (ease of reading) and as a weblink document, so you may more easily move around if you wish, both preceded by a short introduction to the report on PBS:

The PBS Introduction:

The easier to read PDF:                                                                                               

The website version:                                                                   

       Bill Clontz

If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:

(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you prefer, add the word PRIVATE at the end of your comment and I will list your statement as coming from ANONYMOUS.

(2) Share the word about this blog with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts. Let’s grow our circle.






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