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« Protecting the Free Speech of Those We Disagree With | Main | The Persecution of German Americans During World War I »

Discussing Public Policy and Understanding Issues Facing the Nation

By Angelo Lopez
March 30, 2017

In this time, news stations like Fox News has injected a hyper partisan political climate that has caused a deterioration of civil discourse on the many important issues facing this nation. The sort of intellectual debate on ideas that are a basic foundation of a democratic republic is becoming more difficult as Americans from different regions have become more ideologically and economically isolated from people with different viewpoints. I am a liberal Democrat, but I have to admit that progressives can be just as partisan as conservatives.

There have been some recent efforts by liberals and conservatives to engage in a civil debate on ideas. A few weeks ago, for instance, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz engaged in a civil debate on health care reform and both Senators answered questions from members of the audience. I think these type of debates and discussions of ideas are an important part of what makes this country great. One of my favorite books is The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams. These three great Americans were close friends even though Jefferson was an ardent Republican who believed in strong local contral while John and Abigail Adams were fervent Federalists who believed in a strong federal government. They used their letters to debate on their different ideas on government and political philosophy.

To try to understand more about the various issues facing the nation, I've gotten into the habit of listening to discussions and debates in youtube videos by various organizations I respect. To understand an issue better, it's good to listen to people who have spent years researching and learning about the subject. In most of these videos, the speaker takes a short time to speak, then they take questions from the audience. Some of these videos are from institutes, some from colleges and universities. I listen, do some research to listen to diverse views of the subject, then I slowly make up my mind on what I believe. Even when I disagree with some things that the speaker says, I learn from different viewpoints. In listening intelligent arguments of people I disagree with, I learn about the strengths and weaknesses of my own opinions.

Here are some youtube channels I listen to.

The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University seeks to promote a just and peaceful world through research, teaching, and public engagement.

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University maintains an abiding commitment to advancing the public interest by training exceptional public leaders and solving public problems through world-class scholarship and active engagement with practitioners and decision makers. The school offers the depth, reflection, insight, and excellence of ideas and teaching that can shape future leaders, affect public policies, and make an impact on people and their daily lives.

A memorial to President Kennedy, The Harvard Institute of Politics' mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis and to stimulate and nurture their interest in public service and leadership. The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. Led by a Director, Senior Advisory Board, Student Advisory Committee, and staff, the Institute provides wide-ranging opportunities for both Harvard students and the general public.

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: Strengthen American democracy; Foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans and Secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.

The Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy is part of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The mission of the Carr Center, like the Kennedy School, is to train future leaders for careers in public service and to apply first-class research to the solution of public policy problems. Their research, teaching, and writing are guided by a commitment to make human rights principles central to the formulation of good public policy in the United States and throughout the world.

A nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy and human rights; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care.

The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

The UChicago Institute of Politics (IOP) is an extracurricular program designed to ignite in young people a passion for politics and public service. The IOP provides civic engagement and public service opportunities for students, hosts visiting Fellows, and presents programming in politics and policymaking for students and the general public.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.

For over 50 years, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has developed practical solutions to the world's greatest challenges. Since their founding, CSIS scholars have provided strategic insights and bipartisan policy solutions to help decisionmakers chart a course toward a better world.

CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center's 220 full-time staff and large network of affiliated scholars conduct research and analysis and develop policy initiatives that look to the future and anticipate change.

The Sanford School of Public Policy -- established in 1972 by former North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford -- is a highly selective, top-10 school at Duke University offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in public policy and international development policy.

The mission of University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy is to understand and influence public policies—both through research and by preparing talented individuals to become global leaders and agents of social change. A liaison between academic policy research and practitioners in the field, we equip students to make an impact on the problems facing people and institutions around the globe.

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