Creating a Racially Just Democracy with Danielle Allen, Stephen Heintz and Sondra Samuels

Published on August 27, 2020

Wow! More than 400 people tuned in on Thursday to join our event, Creating a Racially Just Democracy. Many of you were inspired by the hopeful message of our expert panel — that we can join together with common purpose and reform our government so it is responsive to the people and addresses the challenges of racial injustice.

Danielle Allen and Stephen Heintz, co-chairs of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, a project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, joined Sondra Samuels, President and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) to discuss the Commission’s Report on America’s declining political institutions, recommendations to strengthen our democracy, and ways in which these reforms can help create a more racially inclusive and responsive government. Ranked Choice Voting is among the top reforms they recommend!

Opening the event, U.S. Senator Tina Smith spoke from the heart acknowledging that “we are in a moment of real reckoning about whether our country is going to choose to live up to the full potential that is promised in our Constitution” and that she was “eager to hear about this report and. . .how Ranked Choice Voting can help us address these systemic challenges with racial equity in our election system and in our democracy.” She closed with a strong endorsement of RCV!

Harvard Professor Danielle Allen explained how the reforms in the report speak directly to this moment of racial reckoning and said that Ranked Choice Voting is the “single most important” thing we can do.

“We’ve known for a long time people have been lifting their voices, articulating grievances for a decade with regard to policing. So the core problem is actually a lack of sufficiently responsive governance, sufficiently responsive political institutions. . . .[and] how do we fix that? How can we have responsive political institutions? Ranked Choice Coting is one of our number one recommendations.

Professor Allen highlighted how RCV brings new and diverse “voices into our political arena and empowers people.” And requiring candidates to win with majority support “would be transformative for our politics.”

Sondra Samuels, President and CEO of NAZ spoke about the hopelessness of many voters in North Minneapolis in prior elections, with many feeling like their vote didn’t count. She was able to see the transformation with Ranked Choice Voting in 2009: “I’ve never seen more of a diverse group of people coming out to vote!” Samuels explained the real life benefits of RCV for voters — that her neighbors felt like their vote would be counted and that “the hopefulness in that is just real and is palpable.”

Stephen Heintz, President and CEO of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, noted that “this is a year of extraordinary opportunity” for electoral reform. “We have the opportunity to really advance change this year” he explained, “because. . . the nation’s attention is focused on the urgent need to. . .reform and to create a democracy that will help us be the country we promised to be.”

Stephen closed by noting that the Commission members are not simply issuing a report but are committed to ensuring “substantial progress on all 31 recommendations by 2026 when the nation will celebrate its two hundred and fifty year anniversary.”

The recommendations, as Professor Danielle Allen explained, “deliver a vision for an inclusive, responsive, empowering electoral system.”

We urge all of you to read the full report here.

Kim Nelson closed with a call to action to help pass RCV in Bloomington and Minnetonka and support RCV proponents running for the Minnesota legislature — to continue the huge moment to advance this critical reform. You can watch the full video of the event here.

Join us in this historic effort with your time or financial support! Two generous donors have stepped up to make a $10,000 challenge match for everyone who contributes between now and September 18, the date early voting starts in Minnesota.  Please make a donation of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can to our 2020 Reinventing Democracy Fund today!

Thank you to our tremendous panelists, to all those who attended this seminal educational event, and to ALL of you for making our democracy work for every Minnesotan.

550 Vandalia St. #210

St. Paul, MN 55114

(763) 807-2550

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