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Talks to restore your faith in politics
Modern politics turns you off? Here’s how to reconnect — and take charge of your world.
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Political change with pen and paper
6 minutes 7 seconds
Want your local politician to pay attention to an issue you care about? Send a monthly handwritten letter, says former mayor Omar Ahmad -- it's more effective than email, phone, or even writing a check. He shares four steps to writing a letter that works.
How to upgrade democracy for the Internet era
13 minutes 24 seconds
Pia Mancini and her colleagues want to upgrade democracy in Argentina and beyond. Through their open-source mobile platform they want to bring citizens inside the legislative process, and run candidates who will listen to what they say.
A conservative's plea: Let's work together
14 minutes 14 seconds
Conservatives and liberals both believe that they alone are motivated by love while their opponents are motivated by hate. How can we solve problems with so much polarization? In this talk, social scientist Arthur Brooks shares ideas for what we can each do as individuals to break the gridlock. "We might just be able to take the ghastly holy war of ideology that we're suffering under and turn it into a competition of ideas," he says.
Why ordinary people need to understand power
17 minutes 15 seconds
Far too many Americans are illiterate in power — what it is, how it operates and why some people have it. As a result, those few who do understand power wield disproportionate influence over everyone else. "We need to make civics sexy again," says civics educator Eric Liu. "As sexy as it was during the American Revolution or the Civil Rights Movement."
The antidote to apathy
7 minutes 5 seconds
Local politics -- schools, zoning, council elections -- hit us where we live. So why don't more of us actually get involved? Is it apathy? Dave Meslin says no. He identifies 7 barriers that keep us from taking part in our communities, even when we truly care.
Why democracy matters
13 minutes 41 seconds
The public is losing faith in democracy, says British MP Rory Stewart. Iraq and Afghanistan’s new democracies are deeply corrupt; meanwhile, 84 percent of people in Britain say politics is broken. In this important talk, Stewart sounds a call to action to rebuild democracy, starting with recognizing why democracy is important -- not as a tool, but as an ideal.
We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim
18 minutes 19 seconds
There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.
How common threats can make common (political) ground
20 minutes 1 second
If an asteroid were headed for Earth, we'd all band together and figure out how to stop it, just like in the movies, right? And yet, when faced with major, data-supported, end-of-the-world problems in real life, too often we retreat into partisan shouting and stalemate. Jonathan Haidt shows us a few of the very real asteroids headed our way -- some pet causes of the left wing, some of the right -- and suggests how both wings could work together productively to benefit humanity as a whole.
How the Internet will (one day) transform government
18 minutes 32 seconds
The open-source world has learned to deal with a flood of new, oftentimes divergent, ideas using hosting services like GitHub -- so why can’t governments? In this rousing talk Clay Shirky shows how democracies can take a lesson from the Internet, to be not just transparent but also to draw on the knowledge of all their citizens.