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  • Redistricting

    By John Guy on December 12, 2016
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    In 1965, it was called “reapportionment” and some members of the Indiana Senate Democrat Caucus were not shy to express their self-interest. I was there.  As a legislative intern, I was assigned to the reapportionment committee of The Indiana Senate chaired by David Rogers of Bloomington.  My job was to carry proposed maps from University computer-types to the committee, its […]
  • Negative Campaigning

    By John Guy on December 12, 2016
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    The “average person” rails against negative campaigning.  The “average person” campaigns negatively. Example:  On behalf of candidate John Fencl for Washington Township (Indianapolis) school board, two “average person” neighbors distributed a flyer two days prior to the election.  The first half supported Mr. Fencl saying he is a quality person and a school parent.  With that information and endorsement by […]
  • “Perils of eroded civic knowledge forewarned by fmr Justice Souter”

    By Rachel Santos on October 25, 2016
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    Retired Supreme Court Justice, David Souter discusses the importance of democracy and civic literacy. Souter stressed the importance of civic knowledge in order to sustain a true democracy. Watch here!
  • An Enlightened Citizenry: The Personality of Civic Aptitude

    By Aaron Dusso on October 14, 2016
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    Link to full research Democratic Personality In my forthcoming book, Personality and Political Attitudes: Civic Capacity and the Challenges of Democratic Politics (to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017), I examine the influence that the Big Five personality traits (Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability) have on the ability to understand political issues and party behavior.  […]
  • Hoosier guide to voting.

    By Rachel Santos on October 5, 2016
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    Last week I had the chance to visit Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis to register young voters. This experience reminded me of the importance of knowing the voting process and how to register. Here are ten things you should know about voting in Indiana: Indiana voter eligibility: be a US citizen, live at an Indiana address by October 9th, […]
  • This NYT analysis shows that richer, older, better-educated adults are more likely to vote.

    By Arthur Farnsley on September 22, 2016
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    We can improve civic literacy by teaching people information they should, but don’t, know.  But this will only get us so far.  To make lasting changes we need to understand the relationship among many factors, including what makes people think and act as they do.  Multiple forces, such as culture for groups and personality types for individuals, shape people’s ideas […]
  • Giving Civics a Sporting Chance

    By Sheila Suess Kennedy on September 15, 2016
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    I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. I teach my law and public policy classes through a constitutional lens–I am convinced that students must understand America’s fundamental legal framework and philosophy if they are to approach policy proposals with the necessary analytic tools. I often introduce the Free Speech provisions of the First Amendment by asking “What did […]
  • Relying too much on polls doesn’t serve public

    By Jeffery McCall on September 1, 2016
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    Polls in 1948 indicated Harry Truman had no chance to win the election. He ignored the ominous polls, took off on his whistle-stop tour and won the election anyway. Pollsters and pundits were shocked. Americans today would be wise to follow Truman’s lead and disregard the swarm of polls dominating the media landscape this year. Every major broadcast and cable […]
  • Cable news networks won the primaries

    By Jeffery McCall on July 1, 2016
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    The presidential primary election season has mercifully ended, and the clear winners are … the cable news channels. Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN all saw substantial ratings growth during the primary campaign. In May, Fox News was the most watched channel in all of cable television, even topping TNT and ESPN. Fox, which gained 18 percent in viewership compared […]
  • Uninformed public is danger to democracy

    By Jeffery McCall on May 13, 2016
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    The economy continues to struggle, the educational system underperforms and tensions exist at just about every point on the international landscape. And there is a national presidential selection process underway. It seems, in such an environment, that citizens would feel compelled to get themselves fully up to date on news that matters. It also would stand to reason that the […]
  • Electing Our Future: A Summary Report

    By The Center for Civic Literacy on May 6, 2016
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    As you may recall we partnered on a series last fall called Election Our Future, aimed to offer Marion County residents an opportunity to learn more about navigating Indianapolis’ governing structures and to recognize the impact of local government on their daily activities.  The overall goal was to increase informed engagement in the civic life of our city, including voting […]
  • That Urban/Rural Divide

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 29, 2016
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    There are lots of ways to “slice and dice” human populations (and unfortunately, we humans excel in exploiting and magnifying those differences). One dividing line that has not gotten the attention it deserves is the one between inhabitants of rural and urban America. As the authors of a famous rant–The Urban Archipelago—pointed out some years back, America’s cities are big […]
  • Civic Literacy and our 2016 Election Choices

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 22, 2016
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    As Indiana’s primary approaches, it’s time to look at the 2016 election landscape as objectively as possible. None of us is truly objective, of course. I look at the “still standing” Presidential candidates from the perspective of someone who teaches public administration, supports civil liberties, and has had a fair amount of first-hand political experience. I’m also old enough to […]
  • Civic Education in the Age of Trump

      Little hands. A bad tan. And blood coming from wherever. If you’re put off by the crude tone of politics in the Age of Trump, you’re not alone. According to a recent poll by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate, and KRC Research, 70 percent of Americans think that political incivility has reached “crisis” levels. The poll also found that Americans avoid discussing […]
  • May Your Tribe Decrease

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 8, 2016
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    This post was originally published on the blog, sheilakennedy.net  on April 23, 2015 and is republished here with the permission of the author: In a recent column, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reported on a social science study that came to some surprising (and depressing) conclusions: Up until the mid-1980s, the typical American held the view that partisans on the other […]
  • Flavors of Freedom

    By Sheila Kennedy on April 1, 2016
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    There is a book review in the latest issue of the Washington Monthly of “No Freedom Without Regulation: The Hidden Lesson of the Subprime Crisis.”  It was written by a Professor Singer of Harvard Law School, and in it, he considers a type of freedom that gets short shrift from the various special interests who are constantly insisting that any and all […]
  • “Strict Constructionists” and the Supreme Court Vacancy

    By Sheila Kennedy on March 25, 2016
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    I’ve posted previously about the absolutely stunning refusal of the Senate GOP leadership to do its job and hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat. I know I’m being repetitive, but I can’t stop thinking about the degree to which that intransigence symbolizes an ominous breakdown of governance in this country. It isn’t that we […]
  • Transparency

    By John Guy on March 11, 2016
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    To accomplish, or to openly process? Academics, such as those in the Indiana University Center for Civic Literacy, argue that open, transparent and thoroughly debated process is as important as result, usually referring to planning and construction of a physical facility.  Here is a quote from The Center: “The way in which you achieve a goal is often just as […]
  • A Dangerous Road

    By Sheila Kennedy on March 4, 2016
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    Yesterday, I was supposed to speak at an event sponsored by Organizing for America, focused on the battle over Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court. Instead, of course, I was in the hospital. Since I hate to let a speech go to waste, here are the remarks I had planned to make. ________________________ The refusal by Senate Republicans to […]
  • A Civil Life

    By John Guy on February 26, 2016
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    Is Congress failing to keep the peace? In a peaceful society, leaders’ discourse is respectful both of individuals and of institutions.  Peace is engendered when disagreement is expressed with empathy and understanding, with respect for the position, assigned function and opinion of others.  If respect is missing at the top, is not the bottom in danger? In February, leaders of […]