Ideas for Politics Civic Issues Blog

Civic Discourse: Is civic discourse ailing in the U.S.?  How might it be improved?  How has the internet in general and social media in particular affected the possibility and the tenor of civic discourse?  What do recent organized protest movements on both sides of the political spectrum—the various Tea Party groups and the Occupy movement—suggest about the state of civic discourse at present?  What role do non-political forces (such as the media) have in promoting or disturbing civic discourse? In what ways does/can education enable civic discourse in and about politics? Under what conditions, if any, is uncivil discourse justified? What examples have you encountered that suggest that civic discourse is alive and healthy?

Party politics:  What has happened to bipartisanship in the U.S. government?  How might we quantify the extent to which government is partisan or bipartisan?  What are the ideologies underlying bipartisanship as a thing to be valued above other elements of political action and discourse?  About what issues does a bipartisan consensus (in either practice or stated belief) already exist?  How do the structures of government in the U.S. (e.g., the filibuster, anonymous holds, veto powers) affect the possibilities of bipartisanship?  How can government accomplish anything?  Is it better on the state level (in any state)?  Do “party lines” exert too much control over elected officials? What role should “third parties” play in U.S. politics?  For that matter, what role should parties play in representative democracy? To what extent to political parties represent U.S. citizens?  Do other nations have models that would prove useful in the U.S.? Is bi-partisanship possible in the contemporary media climate with 24/7 cable news shows and blogs?

U.S. foreign policy: How is the U.S. doing with diplomacy in different parts of the world? What does war have to do with it all?  If the 20th century was famously known as “The American Century,” what will the U.S.’s role be on a global stage in the 21st century? What responsibilities, if any, does the U.S. have to provide foreign aid? What is the status of deliberation about the U.S.’s policy drone warfare, and how might that deliberation or policy be improved? What are some of the commonplaces that American citizens hold about foreign policy? Do you see these commonplaces shifting?