We Must Empower Each Other to Lead

This Presidents’ Day, we remember those who have served honorably to build and to defend government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We commemorate the service of:

  • General Washington who with his infantry camped through a dangerous winter at Valley Forge, to stage the most improbable victory against the most powerful empire in world history.
  • Abraham Lincoln, who recognized that a free country cannot allow any of its people to be deprived of freedom.
  • Franklin Roosevelt, who when his nation faced total deprivation remained steady, spoke frankly to the people, offered a New Deal, and who later marshaled the nation and its allies to overthrow fascist dictatorship.
  • Ronald Reagan’s demand to the Soviet Premier: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
  • Barack Obama, and the many ways large and small by which he worked for the dignity of the nation and its people.

And, we recognize the service of all those who serve us every day, at every level, regardless of who holds the nation’s highest office.

We must also remember that central to our nation’s civic life is the moral obligation to work constructively to oppose, outflank and overcome illegitimate forces that seek to undermine the integrity of our democracy.

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We Stand for a Better Way

After President Trump’s disparaging remarks about Haiti and African countries, CCL Global Strategy Director Joe Robertson responds. 

Our volunteers in Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania, in all across 14 African countries and 6 continents, work hard to be principled community leaders whose efforts foster democratic participation. They work to build better societies, where citizens and stakeholders have a voice in making policy, where human imagination, not the inertia of historical injustice, determines future outcomes.

This is not easy work. Volunteers have faced disdain and assault from those who believe citizen volunteers should not have a right to correct against corruption, simply for speaking up. One of our local leaders said, after receiving personal threats, “I will not let people driven by fear and anger stop me from working for good. We have a right to a better future, and we have the tools to empower others. We must do this work.”

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Reject Hate, Every Time

The gift. It is an area of inquiry in deconstructionist postmodern philosophy, that connects to all the human aspirations we might classify as altruistic. The true gift asks nothing in return, not even recognition. At the heart of the act of giving, there lies a paradox: one must have the intention to give in order to do it, and yet awareness of the intention is itself a kind of recognition. Despite the impossibility of the perfect act of giving, a fundamental ethical call requires that we value and aspire to achieve it.

We are always already called.

By the very fact of being able to conceive of a human subject—the first-person singular, the experience of being the “I am” that we are—we establish an ethical relationship to the vulnerability, intentionality, right to be rightful, and ethical value, of all others who have this experience. The Golden Rule—Do unto others as you would have others do unto you—is not a wish or an idea; it is the structurally integral ethical universe that emerges from the fact that any of us is conscious, alive, and in any way vulnerable.

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The Right Wing is NOT Republican

Republicans should use the Trump debacle as an opportunity to correct course and build a reasoned, principled, inclusive future

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President Reagan meeting with Senator John McCain in the Oval Office. July 31, 1986. Photo credit: Reagan Library Archives.

The 17 months of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency subjected the American public and the national discourse to a degrading obsession with personal insults, authoritarian threats, and overt cues to racist fringe politics. Since his election, Republican leaders have hoped he would “moderate his behavior” and begin to use rhetoric more befitting of an elected president.

He did not do this during the transition, and his first three weeks in office have demonstrated a near total disregard for anyone or anything that would limit his authority to act as he pleases, even where all evidence, and the law itself, are against him. Many conservatives now openly wonder what to do with someone who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes but demands they follow his lead without question, even when he openly defames, dismisses or undermines their core values.

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A Breakthrough for All Americans

To all Americans who reacted to last night’s nomination of Hillary Clinton with disparagement, vitriol, conspiracy theories, and even hate-speech: Please take a moment to think about what what was accomplished, and to whom it might matter. Regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton, for the first time in the history of our Republic, one of the two major parties (at last) nominated a woman as candidate for the presidency.

This is an historic moment for our democracy.

We should be humbled by how long it has taken, and proud of our ability to evolve as a people. To anyone who is not in politics, the decades of service and struggle to which this breakthrough candidate has committed herself, should be humbling. Future generations can now take for granted that the presidency really is an open office, to which any young girl or boy can aspire.

At the time our nation was being born, Mary Wollstonecraft observed correctly that any nation in which some are excluded from the rights and privileges of full education, public life, decision-making and self-determination, is diminished by that exclusion. Such a society is deprived of all of the personal virtues and talents the excluded persons might bring to its public life. She observed that everyone in that nation is diminished, even the most powerful of the old guard, who feel this diminishment affects only others.

Last night, whether you will ever vote for or support Hillary Clinton, we all became freer, in a deep and important way.

We should take a moment to celebrate this, as a tribute to the power of an evolving democracy and to the values that allow us to live with openness and unity, as both adversaries and as patriots, all at once. There is honor in showing grace to an accomplished leader of the other side, especially when we mark a milestone in advancing human liberty. It is that kind of grace that we proclaim is great when we talk about the greatness of our democracy.

True Independence Requires Reciprocal Civic Empowerment

“A republic… if you can keep it…”

The work of building up to a better outcome has always already begun, before we have a chance to think about the work itself or its necessity.

The act of leading, then, is a recognition of the forces that are converging and a conscious understanding of how to work with them, when and to what purpose.

Having just arrived back from a journey to the heart of our democracy, I am again affirmed in the feeling that our democracy is deeply personal. And so, the success of our democracy depends on the intimate experience each participant has of the democratic process.

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Civics for Rapid, Scalable Climate Action

Active Citizen Participation to Universalize the Paris Effect 

ace-logoArticle 6 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change calls for public participation in climate action. This can mean many things; we propose it mean that active, direct citizen participation in the design and deployment of climate solutions be the standard. We propose this be done universally, through a network of collaborating partners to ensure mutual empowerment through the same process of empowerment of citizens and community groups.

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