The Atlantic

How Civic Obligations, Education, and Federalism Can Save America

Three observers of American politics fear deepening division and polarization, and offer different proscriptions for the best way forward.
Source: Hannah Mckay / Reuters

For Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, the best, most succinct description of democratic values comes from the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal. “Living this value, and protecting democracy to foster and further it, is always going to be difficult in practice,” he wrote. “But I believe the continued story of America has been one of hard-fought progress, and that every step toward progress, fairness, and equality is worth fighting for.”

As he sees it, the difficulty of fulfilling our promise and potential is partly due to the fact that “while these rights are ‘inalienable,’ they are not inevitable.” As he sees it, “it takes courage and compassion to continuously create the kind of democracy we want.”

These are the obligations he believes that all of us have:

All of us have to participate, and stay informed and engaged

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min read
Becoming A Parent In The Age Of Black Lives Matter
When the movement for black lives began, I did not have children. Now the fight means more to me—coupled with fears that are even deeper.
The Atlantic5 min read
What One Woman’s Shattered Career Reveals About the Music Industry
HBO Max’s On the Record details sexual-assault allegations against the rap mogul Russell Simmons—and homes in on the lives derailed by sexism.
The Atlantic5 min read
Christo Found Beauty in Realizing the Impossible
The conceptual artist, who died yesterday at 84, made constructing quixotic, monumental projects his life’s work.