American politics in 2018 is defined by political polarization, gridlock and dysfunction. The most pressing issues — such as climate, taxation, education and health care — are ignored or made worse by legislators who are too often in the pocket of campaign contributors. Our system of elections ensures a two party duopoly that fosters extremism, depresses voter participation, and gives us a limited diversity of candidates and political debate. Political system failure — in the form of broken campaign finance, ethics and election laws — is the primary reason for the current political crisis. 

Most Americans think there’s no way to fix the problem, but there are state and local reform efforts taking hold in dozens of locations around the nation — many using the citizen-driven ballot initiative process. Four states are advancing “redistricting reform” that would end gerrymandering. Several states are passing comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reforms. Three others are passing “automatic voter registration” laws that ensure everyone is registered to vote. The list goes on. Josh Silver will discuss these efforts, and how a growing coalition of nonpartisan organizations are bringing together grassroots conservatives and progressives to pass these reforms. He will discuss the emerging “post-partisan” movement to reclaim American democracy, and how you can be part of it. 

Josh Silver is the founder and director of Represent.Us, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is advancing comprehensive campaign finance and election reforms across the nation. Silver is also co-founder and former CEO of Free Press, an advocacy group that promotes critical journalism and internet openness. Josh served as campaign manager of the successful 1998 "Clean Elections" ballot measure in Arizona. He publishes widely on democracy, media, telecommunications, campaign finance and a range of other public policy issues. Represent.Us has built a large grassroots and social media community. Josh is focused on how to leverage systemic change through mass movements that traverse diverse political ideologies.

This program is free and open to the public. It is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst, Buckland, Charlemont-Hawley, Conway, Heath, Rowe and Shelburne cultural councils, local agencies which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Bruce Watson