After carefully observing our newly-minted country, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America” of the uniquely American habit of “forever forming associations.” Our first and strongest associations in America were with the people who shared a common geography and, amid many threats, likely a common fate: our neighbors. On this page, you’ll find different ways that you can reconnect with your fellow citizens in a revival of this most central American principle.
Today we’re also grappling with the consequences of rapidly changing technologies to a functioning democracy. While social media clearly offers a breathtaking array of new opportunities to associate with each other, we now know that an unintended consequence of the digital age is dramatically less direct contact with our neighbors – particularly the ones who don’t look like us or and who don’t agree with us politically. That’s a development with real danger to the underpinnings of democracy.
At a time when disagreement is roiling, we think there is only one choice for a people who believe in democracy – we’ve got to be intentional about gathering people together who are different and reviving our common bonds. After all, it was the most profound and world-changing insight of our Founding Fathers that a diverse people could self-govern – that we could be free, without a king to tell us what to do. Looks like we’re going to have to prove them right. Here are a few tools to do it.