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February 7, 2018

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Democracy at the Thanksgiving Table

November 17, 2017

One of the exercises that was a lot of fun at the start of this journey was to identify a common set of questions that would guide conversation. The magic of good questions is that they will offer clears prompts that open wells of insight. So far these questions have worked well; they are accessible while remaining just a little beyond the bounds of day to day conversation.


I've been wondering whether the questions have staying power; could they form the basis of interesting conversations between people of all backgrounds? Wherever you're gathering this Thanksgiving, I'd love to find out!


One of the things that resonates from this trip comes out of a conversation that I had in Santa Fe, a city charged with cultural and geographic history. Its easy for me to forget that the area was settled over a thousand years ago; by the time the pilgrims were adjusting to their first winter the Spanish had established an administrative center at Santa Fe where the starving easterners might have enjoyed a hot meal.


Our founding myths are thrilling, incomplete and too often tragic. By engaging one another across age, geography, life experience and ultimately perspectives we can stitch together a fuller, richer and more expansive narrative about our democratic experiment.


Wherever you spend this Thanksgiving, I invite you to give these Search for America questions a try - you just might be amazed by what you learn! Here are the questions:

  1.  What is your definition of "democracy"?

  2. By that definition, how are we doing today?

  3. What is an early experience of democratic participation?

  4. What image captures the power of American democracy for you?

  5. Would you share a narrative about our democracy that is meaningful to you?

  6. What levers do we have to strengthen our democracy, to build a more perfect union?

Thank you, and I wish you a happy Thanksgiving wherever you will celebrate.

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