Look to points of light for solutions to divisions
January 25, 2024
by William McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at the George W. Bush Institute
At times, it may seem like we are drowning in conflict and division. But what if interesting and innovative projects are occurring in our states that allow communities and thus our nation to function as “one out of many” – which is the essence of a pluralistic society? What if these thousand points of light are a major part of the solutions that our country needs?
Here are a few examples of organizations and individuals that are “practicing pluralism,” often away from the national spotlight. Their work reflects a dedication to respectfully engage with others from different points of view and background. In doing so, these efforts are strengthening the ties that bind us.
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State Future Caucus – The caucus engages millennial and Gen Z lawmakers in statehouses to work across party lines to resolve problems. Emphasizing “collaborative governance,” the effort is an initiative of the Future Caucus organization that grew out of a 2013 Millennial Action Project. State Future Caucus now has members in 33 states and boasts of having 156 state legislators in leadership positions.
Participants are encouraged to listen to each other, think of “we,” build trust among themselves, emphasize with another’s viewpoint, work around barriers, and pursue innovative action. These are not feel-good platitudes, either.
In Arkansas, for example, lawmakers in 2023 passed the CROWN Act that two State Future Caucus members – Republican State Sen. Breanne Davis and Democratic State Rep. Jamie Scott – sponsored. The legislation bars discrimination based upon hairstyle. Among other things, the measure prohibits a coach or administrator from kicking a student off an athletic team because of their hairstyle. Similarly, two Oklahoma State Future Caucus members, Democratic Rep. Ajay Pittman and Republican State Sen. John Michael Montgomery, joined together in their statehouse to craft a maternal health care bill.
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