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Pepperdine School of Public Policy Announces: Reinvent American Democracy for the 21st Century Responding to a Nation in Crisis

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June 11, 2020 – Today, Pete Peterson, dean of Pepperdine School of Public Policy announced that a nationwide bipartisan Commission, convened by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences on which he served for two years, has issued its ambitious recommendations to help a nation in crisis emerge with a more resilient democracy.

Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, the final report of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, which includes 31 recommendations to strengthen America’s institutions and civic culture is now online. While the project began in 2018, recent events—including the devastating pandemic and massive nationwide protests for racial justice—underscore the urgency of identifying what is breaking and charting a bold path forward.

The Commission, chaired by Danielle Allen (Harvard University), Stephen Heintz (Rockefeller Brothers Fund), and Eric Liu (Citizen University) convened leaders in academia, civil society, politics, and business who brought an array of ideological views and diverse expertise to their joint effort. The Commission held listening sessions with hundreds of Americans from all corners of the country to develop the recommendations in the bipartisan report which include:

  • Institute universal voting and instant voter registration for all eligible Americans.
  • Establish an expectation of national service by all Americans.
  • Promote electoral reforms to increase representation and decrease hyper-partisanship.
  • Increase resources and resolve for community leadership, civic education, and an American culture of shared commitment to constitutional democracy and one another.

Peterson was selected for the Commission due to his work in promoting civic participation through the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement at Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, and his prior leadership of the bipartisan organization "Common Sense California." Peterson has also been involved in election reform issues as the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State back in 2014 and his ongoing board service to California Forward—a bipartisan political and economic reform organization.

“Our Commission came from different backgrounds, political views, and areas of expertise, and it wasn’t always easy to agree but it was important to do the work, find consensus, and put a shared vision of a better America first,” said Peterson. “The comprehensiveness of the effort—from regular meetings of the Commissioners to numerous focus groups hosted around the country—all informed what is a remarkable report.”

David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, stated, “This Commission worked for two years across divides, across disciplines, and across the country.” He added, “These comprehensive reforms are necessary to make America more representative, more responsive, and more united.” The American Academy of Arts & Sciences was established in 1780 by the country’s founders to help guide a young nation through challenges and emerge stronger. This is one of those times. 

Peterson is pleased with the outcome of the Commission and looks forward to continuing to work to achieve significant progress on these recommendations by 2026, the nation’s 250th anniversary.

Learn more about the Pepperdine School of Public Policy at publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu.

Read the full report here: www.amacad.org/ourcommonpurpose.