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Harwood Leading a National Conversation On 'The State of Our Union'

This week, The Harwood Institute is asking everyone interested in forging an alternate path for politics and public life to join Rich Harwood for a national conversation on “The State of Our Union.” Rich wrote a series of articles this week for his blog, Redeeming Hope, that are designed to address some of the fundamental questions we face as a society of people who have retreated from the public square. The conversation leads up to the president’s annual State of the Union Address, which is scheduled for next Tuesday, Jan. 31. Rich’s writings are based on his 20 years of travel across the country, listening to the authentic voices of ordinary Americans. What he has found is that people have retreated from politics and public life because leaders no longer reflect the reality of our daily lives in their words and actions. In some cases, they even purposefully distort that reality for political gain. The result is that people feel enraged but also powerless to do anything about it, which leads to an overwhelming feeling of being trapped. The authentic voices of Americans tell us a far different story from what we hear from the media, political pundits, many academics, and political leaders, all of whom believe we have simply become a more divided society. Unfortunately, the political strategies pursued under this false analysis force people to retreat farther and farther into their close-knit circles of family and friends. Blog entries for this week include:

* On Monday, Rich wrote about the notion of “truth” and what it means to people.
* On Tuesday, he discussed the role our political leaders play in shaping the State of Our Union.
* Wednesday’s blog concerns the need for all of us to step forward and begin to see one another.
* On Thursday Rich wrote about the pursuit of “happiness” and where that is leading us as a society.

To engage in a conversation about the State of Our Union, visit Rich’s blog at www.theharwoodinstitute.org/rcharwood/weblog/

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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