“What if our highest principles became our politics?”

People are their principles, and politics should flow naturally from this idea but, as we all know, it all too frequently does not. One of the original meanings of ‘politics’ is quite simply the process by which groups make decisions. Most particularly at this time in our nation’s history, how and what we collectively decide will define what is meant by the word “American”.

When you speak with people from other countries around the world, what is strikingly clear is the hope which the word ‘America” embodies. Foreigners may, rightly or wrongly, strongly disagree with our administration’s policies, but they generally champion and cherish the ideals and principles upon which our nation was founded in a profound sense. This may go a long way toward explaining why, particularly when they come here, they are sometimes confused, dismayed and disheartened by the realities of the way our government functions in actual practice. Now we are, as we all understand, a nation built by immigrants and thus those who come here from other lands are in a very real way our own mirror image, our collective DNA. Perhaps then, it is worth considering the idea of living up to the ideals of our best selves as our founders envisioned it and seek to fully engage, become informed and participate in our democracy.

Thus, the purpose of our program as we envision it, is to stimulate people to think about political involvement more synthetically; as, for example, to build on the idea that focusing on education, green job creation, health care, and energy conservation (to name just a few topics) is a team sport– everyone’s position has integral value in moving us toward our goal.

Communities stay vital and healthy when they resist linear thinking — the one thing at a time approach. We hope to foster the notion that national, state, and local issues are fully partnered concerns rather than distant, unrelated issues. As one of our University of Virginia constitutional law professors liked to put it, the most vital question for citizens to consider with any topic under discussion is: ‘who cares…does it matter??’ For politics, the answer… now more than ever… is YES IT DOES.

Our monthly conversations will include private and public persons from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences; the common denominator being a passionate ongoing commitment to principled political involvement. We will also be interviewing sitting officials as well as prospective political candidates holding and running for office at local, state and national levels. We strongly believe that every individual is of unique value and that no one voice should therefore be privileged above that of another. Bedrock political ideals and principles need not go out of fashion however enticing or seductive it might be to err on the side of well reasoned cynicism. It’s an enjoyable sport but in the end leaves the participant sidelined and irrelevant…

So… that said… let’s play as well as we can. Politics Matters…

Let us hear from you with your ideas, stories and concerns for your community, your state and for the nation as a whole. Keep in mind that one of the original meanings of the word “politics” includes the phrase the “entire body of citizens”.

People really ARE their Principles. Share yours with us and we can listen together.