Title Thumbnail

A House Divided

What Would We Have to Give Up to Get the Political System We Want?

Tony Wharton

24 pages
National Issues Forums Institute

Every American is affected by the divisions and outrage that prevent us from making progress on urgent problems. This issue guide is designed to help people deliberate together about how we should approach the issue. These are difficult questions, and there are no easy answers:

  • Should we require more accurate, respectful discussion in the media and online, or would that stifle free speech?
  • Should we reform politics and government to encourage compromise, or will that mean giving up on the changes we really need and want?
  • Should local communities set policies in areas like health care and the environment, or would that risk the progress we've made and make further progress nearly impossible?
  • Should we crack down on money in politics, or will people just find new ways to evade the rules?

This issue guide presents three options for deliberation about difficult problems for which there are no perfect solutions. Each option offers advantages as well as risks. And each reflects different ways of understanding what is at stake, forcing us to think about what matters most to us. The research involved in developing this guide included interviews and conversations with Americans from all walks of life, as well as surveys of nonpartisan public opinion research, subject-matter scans, and reviews of initial drafts by people with direct experience with the subject.

About National Issues Forum

The National Issues Forums (NIF) is a network of organizations that brings together citizens around the nation to talk about pressing social and political issues of the day. Thousands of community organizations, including schools, libraries, churches, civic groups, and others, have sponsored forums designed to give people a public voice in the affairs of their communities and their nation. For more information about NIF and for additional publications, see NIF’s website at www.nifi.org.

Author Bio
Tony Wharton is a former newspaper reporter who has written about public policy issues and deliberation for more than 20 years. He was the editor of “Journalism as a Democratic Art: Selected Essays by Cole C. Campbell,” a 2012 publication of Kettering Foundation Press. He and his family live in Richmond, Virginia. EndFragment