Democracy only works when people can talk to each other about important collective decisions. This is an idea that resonates with many of our most cherished political institutions, from the New England town hall meeting to the Constitutional Convention. Yet, given growing partisan polarization, is it possible to have the kinds of conversation that make democracy meaningful?
We sought to answer this question by launching the Twin Cities Election Forum, a joint project of Professor Dan Myers of the University of Minnesota Department of Political Science and the Jefferson Center. Working with students from Professor Myers' freshman seminar, The Twin Cities Election Forum brought together 52 Twin-Cities area residents, representative of the metro area’s demographic characteristics and political views, for a day of discussion about the 2016 Presidential Election. This forum was supported by a grant from the College of Liberal Arts Joan Aldous Innovation Fund.
After hearing from representatives of the two candidates, these citizens spent the day discussing the election. The group’s formal charge was to produce a list of reasons why Twin Cities voters might support each of the major-party presidential candidates. By asking supporters of each candidate to sit down and talk to each other, we hoped to help both sides develop mutual understanding and recognize one another as fellow citizens deserving of respect.
To see the final report evaluating the forum, please click here (pdf).
Please contact Dan Myers, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, with questions or media requests related to the forum. He can be reached at 612-624-4078 or firstname.lastname@example.org.