democracy is a work in progress
Problems, Progress, Leaders2024-07-12T08:43:32-05:00
Biden and Trump debate June 2024

Primed to Panic: The Biden Debate Narrative Debacle

The Democrats’ panic and media pile-on are overreactions to Biden’s poor debate performance that play into a Republican-spawned narrative of old, slow “Sleepy Joe”. It’s created what looks like a summer-long distraction from the threat to our democracy.

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Leader Spotlight

Cathy Giessel: Model for Governing, Election Reforms


A popular politician who served 10 years in the Alaska state Senate, including two years as Senate president from 2019-21, Cathy Giessel was defeated in the 2020 Republican primary for working too closely with the Democratic minority. Voting reforms passed that year opened a path for her re-election in 2022.

Progress Updates

Here, Where Climate Change and Immigration Intersect

Almost 300 climate scientists now believe the increase in global temperatures will substantially exceed the 1.5°C target set in the Paris Climate Agreement. The result will be unprecedented human migration. Through separate actions, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the nonprofit Welcoming America may be resetting the politics around tackling the migration problem.

Further Fracturing in the GOP

Is it possible for a political party to get stronger even as it fractures? That’s the question hanging over American politics as the Republican Party has increasingly divided itself into pro-Trumpists, never-Trumpists, and politically-convenient Trumpists. Here’s a rundown of some notable developments.

Why Applaud as the National Debt Continues to Soar?

Recently released government projections estimate the national debt will grow by $21.2 trillion over the next 10 years – a 78% increase raising the debt to more than $48 trillion. As bad as that sounds, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group that advocates for fiscal restraint, would like you to know the news could have been worse.

Protecting Voting Rights and Our Elections

Despite significant losses for election deniers in last November’s midterm elections, many anti-democracy candidates won key administrative and legislative seats up and down the ballot, and attacks on voting rights and the integrity of our elections continue.

Setting Priorities

“You do the math. You solve one problem, then you solve the next one and then the next
and if you solve enough problems you get to come home.”

– Matt Damon as Mark Watney from the film, The Martian

Not every problem can be our top priority. Our challenge is to establish a common set of priorities so that they don’t compete with each other for attention and resources. If we are successful, we won’t get to go home like Mark Watney, but we will make our home more politically, socially, and ecologically sustainable.

Problem Briefs

Graphic showing uninsured rates of care
Access to Healthcare

Many Americans lack access to affordable healthcare. Access is limited by high cost, lack of insurance coverage, and a shortage of healthcare providers. Efforts in government to resolve these problems are deeply polarizing and typically provoke powerful industry interests that stand in the way of expanding access. Yet, the complex marketplace for healthcare services doesn’t always incentivize better care for more people.

More frequent wildfires are one result of global warming
Climate Change

Climate change is happening now, impacting us faster and sooner than predicted. The increasingly frequent floods, wildfires, and extreme weather events are causing damage in a growing number of communities around the country that are just now realizing the meaning of climate change. The specific damage varies by region, but recent reports indicate the costly impacts of climate change are no longer only predictions of the future. Whether or not you believe in climate change, those predictions are now also descriptions of the present.

Image illustrating the weight of the debt on the nation
National Debt

The national debt has increased in all but four years since 1980. Its ongoing rise reflects an imbalance between tax and spending policies. The higher the debt, the greater the risks – to economic growth and stability and to our ability to address the next economic crisis when it occurs. While the debt may not be the most urgent problem facing the nation, it has the potential to undermine our ability to respond to those issues that demand action such as climate change and access to healthcare.

Damaged flag with Trump's eyes peering through holes
Threats to Voting Rights

The lie of a stolen election, the January 6 attack on Congress to prevent the certification of the 2020 election results, and the candidacies of hundreds of election deniers is putting at risk the very heart of our democracy – the right of all eligible citizens to vote and have their vote counted. Add in the volatile mix of Americans who now think democracy no longer works and those who no longer support the separation of church and state, and it becomes clear that we are in a struggle to preserve what President Ronald Reagan called “the shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”

Our Focus

The American Leader is a news and reference resource aimed at surfacing and keeping front-and-center the knowledge and aspiration needed to address the nation’s systemic problems – because solving those problems is how we protect our democracy. Often hidden beneath the surface of the 24/7 stream of headlines and attention seekers is a deep bench of American leaders who are attempting bold or innovative ideas to solve the systemic problems that shape our lives. Like noise-cancelling headphones, we eliminate the distortions, distractions, and obfuscations of the news cycle, so that you can learn from these leaders, get inspired, and do something that makes life a little better for your community.

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