American Democracy by Flickr user Poldavo (Alex)

"American Democracy" by Flickr user Poldavo (Alex)

Recently, for various reasons, I’ve been going through my old folders and documents. At various times in my life I’ve toyed with the idea of establishing an institute or center devoted to improving civic life. I’m glad to be able to say that just about all my work over the last decade has been in the pursuit of that overall purpose, even though I have not established that particular nonprofit. (Especially work with The Harwood Institute and the Kettering Foundation.)

This morning I came across some of the foundational documents for this “Center For Civic Life,” written at a time when I was doing a great deal of due diligence and was on the cusp of actually creating it.  At a time like that, one thing you do is begin to develop your mission and vision.

The vision for the aborning Center For Civic Life caught me up short:

A nation in which every citizen sees a place for her or himself in the institutions of democracy.

I think that vision still holds strong. We live at a time when people feel shut out of politics and government — spectators at best. At the same time, there are structural reasons (social and economic) that some people don’t have a place in the institutions of democracy.

There are beginnings of change, but they are nascent. I think we need to keep pushing for this vision.

I was glad to run across this vision, and am glad to reaffirm it today.