TLO’S 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION DIALOGUE SERIES

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On Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020, you and I will be doing two things: First, we’ll be deciding who will be our next president, our next vice president, our next senators and congresspersons, as well as our next state and local officials: Second, we’ll either be affirming or rejecting the direction that our current politicians have forged for us over the last several years. 2020s presidential election is still 22 months away, but even now it’s obvious that the choices we make on November 3rd will be among the most consequential we'll ever make.

The issues at the heart of this election involve some of the most complex, highly controversial choices that have ever been on a presidential ballot. Most of these choices are now, and will continue to be, too complex for most of us to understand. These ballot choices won’t offer us any heroes. Nor will they offer us any simple right or wrong choices, no sure, decisive ways forward. Nonetheless, the votes we cast, the choices we make, will be seminal. 

Without some kind of focused self-directed educational effort, I believe most of us won’t be able to make wise, well-informed decisions on November 3rd, 2020. Without serious preparation, the decisions we’ll November 3rd, 2020 will most likely be choices that have been influenced and even inflamed by the highly polarized political environment that’s been the touchstone of our politics for years. In this environment, getting ready to make wise, well-reasoned, and adequately evidenced choices will require the kind of concerted educational effort that most of us have never thought necessary. Before now. 

TLO’S ANSWER

The ideological polarization that has swept through this country over the last two or three decades, as well as the highly complex, firmly entrenched problems that have been festering inside this country for a long while now, both suggest that our ordinary experiences and our customary insights will not suffice this time around. Between now and November 3rd, 2020, I believe everyone who votes in 2020 has to make sure that they are walking into their respective polling places well enough informed to be able to make wise, well-reasoned, evidenced-based ballot choices.

Getting to the place where we can make these kinds of choices will require from each of us a concerted, personal effort; a serious investment of time and energy. I’ve thought a lot about this, and have concluded that the best way to get ready for November 3rd, 2020’s presidential elections is to engage with a few select others in an extended series of dialogue sessions between now and then. These dialogues would be conversations where everyone, in each dialogue session, is focused on one or two specific aspects of this presidential election in an open-ended conversation about what wise, responsible choices could, and should, look like.

Accordingly, I'm doing two things.

  • First, I've created, and am continuing to curate TLO’s 2020 Presidential Election Resource Center. This center is now, and will be a place where those of us who are interested in getting prepared to cast informed votes in 2020 can research and review useful information, important election-related documents, resources, and data. The kind of fundamental, seriously curated material that promotes critical thinking and supports reasoned conversations.

  • Second, in the coming weeks and months, I’ll be hosting occasional conversations about the dynamics of the presidential election process. Starting in January, I will be convening a series of quarterly Presidential Election Dialogue Sessions. These sessions will include video conferences in January, March, June and September of 2020, with a final face-to-face dialogue session at the end of October 2020. Each of the dialogues in this series will be focused on getting those participating fully prepared to cast wise and reasoned votes in all of the various elections they’ll be involved in during November 2020. 

Together, the Presidential Election Resource Center and its quarterly Presidential Election Dialogues will focus on exploring all the national and worldwide trends, as well as all the social and political movements that have been, and currently are, shaping and driving our emerging presidential election processes. Of particular interest will be issues like the dynamics currently driving political polarization in this country, the forces encouraging a revival of this country’s white supremacy impulses, and the impacts that day-to-day crises like immigration, opioid addiction, gun violence, and rising levels of income inequality are having on our constitutional norms. The Presidential Election Center and our quarterly 2020 Election Dialogues will look to any subject or issue that will help our dialogue participants get prepared to cast wise and reasoned votes in all the local, statewide, and national elections they’ll participate in during November 2020.  

An Invitation

I realize that inviting you to say “yes” to the idea of joining me in this kind of experiment in civic education is a big ask. But, given all that we’ve watched and all that we’ve been a part of over the last couple of years, I think it’s a reasonable ask, no matter what you ultimately decide to do.

I also realize that, if you’re going to make an intelligent choice, you probably will need more information. Which is why I’m setting up the Presidential Election Resource Center. This center will be designed and curated to provide those who might be interested a sense of what needs to be explored and discussed. It’s also will be resourced to provide those who are wondering whether to join with all the information they’ll need to decide whether actually participating in our election dialogue series is the best choice for them. Right now, the Presidential Election Resource Center’s basic infrastructure is up and available for you to see; the navigation button below will take you there. At the moment, the only segment of the Election Resource Center that’s fully operational are the Election Dialogue Series pages. But, as they sit, these pages do have all the details that are available about our 2020 Presidential Election Dialogue Series. The navigation button below will take you to this section. If, on the other hand, you’re ready to jump in right now, just click the green navigation button just below.