I am delighted to have Dr. Danielle Allen joining Politics for the People on Tuesday, June 21st from 3-4 pm ET.
Dr. Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, and Director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
Danielle is a highly respected political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought.
She is known for her work on justice and citizenship in America, and was a Politics for the People guest in 2014 when we discussed her book, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. You can listen to our conversation here.
Our paths crossed again through the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, where Danielle served as a co-chair. Independent Voting organized two listening sessions as part of a nationwide exploration of how citizens view our democracy and civic life. We held listening sessions with independents in AZ and Dr. Omar Ali, IV board member and Dean & Professor, Lloyd International Honors College at University of North Carolina at Greensboro held a session with students. Early in 2020, before the pandemic lockdown, the Academy held an event in Cambridge, MA to review the findings of the project. I participated in a panel on independent voters, parties and candidates. (The Commission’s findings and recommendations are summarized in their report, Our Common Purpose.)
In 2019, Dr. Allen took a leave of absence from her positions at Harvard and launched a campaign for Governor of Massachusetts in the DP primary. She had to end her campaign earlier this year, thwarted by the undemocratic rules for gaining access to the 2022 primary ballot in MA. In response, Jackie Salit penned an oped, “A caucus casualty and a serious loss for democracy”, that appeared in the Boston Herald on March 5, 2022. You can read the article here.
“Allen is a leading voice on the crisis in American democracy. And now she has fallen victim to one of its most insidious practices: party control over nominations.”Jackie Salit
You can read more about Dr. Allen’s thoughts on the run for Governor in her May 6th Wall Street Journal article, “What I learned when I ran for Governor of Massachusetts” here.
“We often hear that America is a deeply polarized society, divided by party, region, and lifestyle. We the people, pundits tell us, are hopeless, too busy pulling down the other side to clean up the wreckage. But what if we the people aren’t really the problem? What if most everyday Americans share a moral compass, even if they sometimes approach issues from different directions? What if the real problem is that our political institutions stop us from coming together?”
In April of this year, Dr. Allen sat down with Dr. Jessie Fields, Jackie Salit and myself. We talked about the challenges we face in our democracy, how controlled the electoral process is by the two parties, why so many Americans are becoming independents, and the uphill road to reform. Danielle talked about her experiences running for office and her continued commitment to “justice by means of democracy” and her ongoing exploration of the the pathways to a “truly representative, functional and responsive government.”
In June, we are going to discuss two of Dr. Allen’s books:
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. (2017), a poignant family memoir of Dr. Allen’s cousin Michael who was sentenced to a long prison term when he was 15, was subsequently released but murdered just 3 years later. The book is gutwrenching and an exploration of the failure of the “war on drugs” and our criminal justice system.
Democracy in the Time of the Coronavirus (2022), where Dr. Allen looks at the US government’s COVID victories and failures in the face of a pandemic that posed a profound health crisis, economic crisis and political crisis.
You can read both books, or pick one and join us for a rich and thought provoking conversation on June 21st.
As you are reading, stay tuned to the Politics for the People blog, where you can read more about both books, Dr. Allen’s recent articles and join fellow Politics for the People members in sharing your thoughts about Dr. Allen’s books. If you would like to submit a review or commentary on either book for our Reader’s Forum, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.