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Newsletter – November 2021

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

An annual tradition at the start of our Thanksgiving meal is that everyone at the table shares something they are thankful for. It’s a great way to capture the true spirit of the holiday. I have so much to be thankful for, and I particularly want to thank all of you for your support of this work and for the counsel and feedback I have received from many of you during this first year of Speak Up for Good Government.

The primary focus of this month’s newsletter is the launch of our newly redesigned website. Continuing in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to my nephew, Justin Cohn, for the amazing work he did in updating the site.

I mentioned last month that in order for us to achieve the objectives of Speak Up for Good Government, we need to be part of an active grass roots movement that advocates for and facilitates change.

The following website enhancements are designed to help support that “mission”:

  • An “About” section that articulates the mission of Speak Up for Good Government

  • Newsletters are now located in a Blog section where readers can post questions and comments

  • Each principle has its own page with resources and calls to action

  • We've consolidated the expert input and no conflict of interest principles

It’s important to note that there is limited info in the resource section of some of the principles. We’d like your help in identifying resources and/or organizations that actively support individual principles. I’m particularly interested in learning about efforts and/or organizations that actively support principle #5: regional differences.

Incorporating feedback I received from last month’s newsletter, rather than creating a separate gerrymandering principle, we broadened the free and fair elections principle (principle #1) to include gerrymandering. Free and fair elections require objective, data based congressional districts that encourage and empower voters to feel that their vote matters! The degree of gerrymandering in both red and blue states is very alarming to me and should be unacceptable to all Americans. Elections should not be pre-determined based on cynically drawn legislative districts designed to preserve power of those in charge. Elections should be won and governing should be done based on the free and fair exchange of opposing ideas that both drive voting decisions and the content of legislation.

I am also very alarmed by the demonization of those that cross party lines or support opposing views. The recently enacted infrastructure bill was the product of good faith work by members of both parties on legislation that is supported by a strong majority of voters in both parties. Threats against those that supported the bill are unacceptable. People with opposing points of view are not enemies. We are a country of many different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. That’s a big part of what makes our country great, and it’s time to embrace those differences rather than demonizing them.

In the spirit of civility and working together I want to highlight both the Problem Solvers caucus in Congress and the Bridge Alliance. The Problem Solvers Caucus is comprised of representatives from across the country—equally divided between Democrats and Republicans—committed to finding common ground on many of the key issues facing the nation. The Bridge Alliance is a community of 100+ organizations that has agreed to adhere to the principles of Embracing Our Differences, Collaboration, Citizen Voice, Solutions, and Open-mindedness. We have added the links to both organizations under the Respect for Opposing Views principle.

I also want to further highlight the work of Voice of the People and the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. I was very fortunate to have a call last week with leaders from Voice of the People. They provided many great suggestions for how we can increase the influence and impact of Speak Up for Good Government and they provided great insight into their efforts to advance Voice of the People. The model that Voice of the People uses to get voter input and identify policies that draw bipartisan support is a great model for driving our legislative agenda. Here is a link to a Washington Post article that details climate polices that enjoy strong bipartisan approach.

Meaningful things can be done on a number of very important issues by focusing on those items that share bipartisan support. Such an approach might not win elections/preserve power, but it will meet the primary objective of our elected officials: serving the public through good faith efforts to address our biggest problems. Voice of the People is working with legislators and their staff to do policy making simulations with the ultimate objective of broad adoption of their methodology as a standard tool for creating and advancing bipartisan legislative solutions. One of my key activities in 2022 will be to pursue policy making simulations with members of the Ohio congressional delegation, with good government organizations I have begun working with, and potentially with members of Speak Up for Good Government! More to come in future newsletters.

Stay tuned for the December edition of our Speak Up for Good Government newsletter where we will look back on our 2021 journey and look forward to 2022.

Take care.



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