Civic Blog

Welcome to the Civic Blog and what we hope will become an ongoing discussion between our bloggers and readers. Visit often, share your perspectives, experiences and suggestions, and help us build a “civic” community. We seek a national conversation on a broad range of topics including education, science, politics and religion. We are always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at if you’d like to post your thoughts.

  • Cable news networks won the primaries

    By Jeffery McCall on July 1, 2016 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    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

    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 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    This post was originally published on the blog,  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 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    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 in Civic Blog

    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

  • What a divided America actually hears when Obama speaks

    As President Obama spoke of the country’s deepening sense of alienation and anger last month, a teacher in Michigan listened, her eyes fixed on the stone-faced Republicans in the House chamber who in her view represented the problem. “Let’s get over the party lines and work together!” she tweeted during the president’s State of the Union address. In Maryland, a

  • TV Debates Don’t Help Political Dialogue

    By Jeffery M. McCall on February 12, 2016 in Civic Blog

    Seven Republican and four Democrat presidential primary “debates” were held in advance of the Iowa caucuses, and the clear winner is … big television’s bank account. Nothing happened on the debate stages that changed the nation’s political trajectory. The sponsoring television channels, however, had the opportunity to promote their news personalities, boost ratings with political spectacles and haul in big

  • Allow Me To Repeat Myself

    By Sheila Kennedy on February 5, 2016 in Civic Blog

    File this one under “here we go again.” Common Cause, the Brennan Center and other nonpartisan organizations are warning about the dangers of an effort to call a Constitutional Convention, purportedly to consider a “balanced budget amendment” to the U.S. Constitution. A balanced budget amendment is a truly bad idea but a Constitutional Convention is an even worse idea, as constitutional interpreters as different as Harvard’s

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