Our Common Purpose
This is a pivotal moment in the history of the American experiment. The events of the past several years have exposed the vulnerabilities of constitutional democracy today — we are experiencing widespread distrust of our institutions and each other, rising inequality and profound demographic shifts, a fragmented media environment, and hyper-partisan polarization. In short, we lack common purpose as Americans.
These challenges require a reassessment of our political institutions, the civil society groups through which we associate, and our civic culture – the values, norms, and narratives that inspire our commitment to our democracy and each other. We must move quickly to improve the resilience of our republic, strengthen our nation’s common purpose, and restore trust in one another and our institutions. Now is the time to reinvent America's constitutional democracy for the 21st century.
Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, the 2020 report of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship proposes 31 recommendations to achieve that end. Having achieved unanimous support from its bipartisan and diverse membership, the Commission offers a model, inspired by our nation's founders, of compromise and consensus building. This approach is urgently needed, from our town halls to the halls of Congress, if we are to find a way forward together.
In signing onto this statement and becoming an Our Common Purpose Community, we agree to work toward advancing one or more of the recommendations in the Our Common Purpose report in our own local community. By doing so, we join a national network of municipalities committed to revitalizing our democracy, and we gain the opportunity to connect with experts and local leaders from across the country whose expertise can help us with this work.
Reinvention is part of the American creed. We call on our neighbors — individual citizens, businesses, civil society groups, educators, nonprofits, and policymakers — to join us in taking action to reinvent American democracy so that it serves all Americans. This, in our moment of peril, must be our common purpose.