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November 3 – What’s at Stake? Unbreaking America

The Champlain Institute-College of the Atlantic

Wednesday, August 19 at 2:00 pm

Speaking in Maine returns to The College of the Atlantic’s Champlain Institute which is holding its sessions in a virtual environment. This year the Champlain Institute is exploring the future of US diplomacy, climate change policy, income inequality, national security, the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court, coronavirus, and other issues that will be critical national topics leading up to the presidential elections in November.

Americans are profoundly troubled about the condition of our democracy. According to a 2017 Washington Post—University of Maryland poll, 71% agree that our political system has reached “a dangerous low point” and just under two-thirds of Americans now believe the US political system is dysfunctional. There is almost universal agreement (96%) that money in politics is a major driver of government dysfunction. RepresentUs was founded to fix our political system. The post-partisan organization brings together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass laws that stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections. Josh Silver, founder and director of RepresentUs, will discuss with Will Thorndike how he believes we can fix our democracy so that our representatives represent us. He will highlight new efforts to pass comprehensive vote-at-home policies that ensure safety amidst the pandemic while increasing voter participation.

Introduced by: Ted Widmer

Josh Silver:
Josh Silver is the founder and director of RepresentUs, a post-partisan, nonprofit organization that is advancing campaign finance and election reforms across the nation. RepresentUs has built one of the largest grassroots and social media communities in the democracy reform field, with a focus on how to leverage systemic change through mass movements that traverse diverse political ideologies.

Silver is also co-founder and former CEO of Free Press, an advocacy group that promotes critical journalism and Internet openness. He served as campaign manager of the successful 1998 “Clean Elections” ballot measure in Arizona.  He publishes widely on democracy, media, election, campaign finance, and a range of other public policy issues.

Will Thorndike:
Will N. Thorndike founded Housatonic Partners in Boston in 1994, a leading middle market private equity firm with offices in Boston and San Francisco, and has been managing director since that time.

Thorndike is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a director of Carillon Assisted Living LLC, CONSOL Energy Inc (Chair, NYSE: CNX), Lincoln Peak Holding LLC, OASIS Group Ltd, QMC International LLC, and ZircoDATA.  He is also a trustee of The Stanford Business School Trust, WGBH, and College of the Atlantic, as well as a founding partner at FARM, a social impact investing collaborative. He is the author of The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success (2012).

Ted Widmer:
Ted Widmer is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and distinguished lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York. Widmer served as a speechwriter and senior advisor to former President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001, and as a senior advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2012 to 2013. He was formerly the director of The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and the director of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

Widmer’s books include Lincoln on the Verge (2020), Martin Van Buren (2005); Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races (with Alan Brinkley, 2001); and Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City (1999). Widmer is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The New York Observer, Politico, The Boston Globe, and The American Scholar.

Source:  College of the Atlantic – Champlain Institute

Music by Our Alarm Clock