The November 5th Coalition

Earlier this year, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship joined with the CIRCLE research center, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Case Foundation, Public Agenda, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium to form the November 5th Coalition. The Coalition is an all-partisan alliance committed to raising civic life themes in the 2008 election season, challenging the “superhero? posture that has come to characterize much presidential campaigning. The coalition is named for the day after the election in 2008 when a new chapter of America’s civic history begins.

The steering committee of the November 5th Coalition met on October 1 in Washington and created two working groups. The first, on communications, developed the statement below. It will also find ways to publicize civic stories and challenge candidates on civic themes over the coming months.

A new civic politics

Enough is enough. America’s politics should be driven by the priorities of the people, not sound bites, special interest money, partisan gridlock, and polarizing rhetoric.

It is time for a change.

We, the undersigned, believe that politics cannot and should not be a spectator sport. No politician, party or ideology will solve America’s mounting problems alone. Only by providing opportunities for the people to be part of the solution can we rebuild trust in our political institutions and create mandates for meaningful action on the critical issues facing our nation.

We challenge candidates and each other to recognize lessons from communities across the nation and around the world where citizens have played vital roles in addressing difficult problems that range from health care to education reform, from keeping communities safe to climate change. We need an outpouring of ideas about how Americans can build on this history, developing skills of working together across divisions of party, faith, race, income, and geography to address common issues. Such work is often difficult. Nothing is more important.

The November 5th Coalition is an all-partisan alliance committed to civic partnerships that address our biggest challenges. The Coalition is named for the day after the election in 2008 when a new chapter of America’s civic history begins. We will ask candidates “November 5th questions? about how they plan to tap the talents of the whole society, instead of posing as superheroes who will solve our problems for us. We will also develop leadership networks and civic policies that can serve as resources for a new administration. We encourage our fellow citizens to join with us in calling on candidates to rise above excessively divisive partisanship and to promote the common good.

We invite all Americans to help us shape a new civic politics that can galvanize the energies of the nation, drawing us from the shopping mall back into the public square. We must renew Abraham Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people,? to achieve a rebirth of liberty and justice for all in the 21st century.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs