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April 22 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT

Project 28:  The Search for Our Next Constitutional Amendment

It has been nearly three decades since the United States Constitution was last updated through ratification of the 27th Amendment.  Over this time, trust in democratic institutions has deteriorated and social cohesion has frayed, culminating in an outbreak of political violence in January 2021 that was triggered in part by misinformation surrounding the 2020 General Election.

Together, BridgeTexas and American Promise are exploring the constitutional dimensions of America’s current trust deficit.  Through “Project 28,” we will be confronting the fundamental sources of the problems facing American democracy—such as money in politics, hyperpolarization, and election access and integrity.  To address our most challenging issues, we believe that social and political trust must be repaired.

“Project 28” will have two phases:

Phase One (Spring 2021):  America’s Trust Deficit? College Students Share Personal Stories About Trust and Distrust of Government

  • In this one-hour webinar, a panel of college students will be invited to share personal stories about interacting with their local, state, or national government.  The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Jessica Hare, and the goal is to elicit personal narratives about experiences that either generated trust in government or diminished trust in government for the student.
  • Prior to the event, the students will prepare by reflecting on the following questions/prompts:
    • Can you remember your earliest memory of interacting with an elected official (at any level of government)?  How old were you?  What happened?  How did it make you feel?  Was it a one-time interaction?
      • Note:  Instead of focusing on an individual government official, you should also share an experience about interaction with a governmental system or institution.
    • Looking back on your life so far, has anyone from the government ever come to your assistance?  (Remember: “government” can include public employees like teachers and public safety officials.)  Please tell us a personal story about a time that happened.  What was memorable about the experience?
      • Note:  Same as above — you can share an experience with a governmental institution/system.
    • Has anyone from the government ever disappointed you personally?  What happened?  How did it affect you personally in that moment?  How has it shaped your attitude since then?  What could the person (or persons) have done to repair the damaged trust?
  • On the day of the event, Dr. Jessica can begin the discussion with some brief remarks about the “loss of trust” that Americans have in government.  (For statistics, see generally: https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/07/22/trust-and-distrust-in-america/)
  • Before introducing the students, Dr. Jessica can establish some conversational norms/guidelines to make sure that the panelists feel comfortable sharing their stories (and feel comfortable saying when they don’t want to share more).
  • Then, Dr. Jessica will go “round robin” with each of the three students to address the questions above.  The atmosphere should be honest, open, and flexible.
  • To wrap up, Dr. Jessica will explain that Phase Two of Project 28 (in the Fall) will explore how we might amend our Constitution to repair social and political trust.

Phase Two (Fall 2021):  College Students Compete In An Amendment “Hackathon”

  • In this interactive weekend experience, undergraduates from across Texas will form ideologically-diverse teams to tackle a particular, systemic political issue of their choice.  The basic prompt for the teams will be:  Please propose specific text for a constitutional amendment designed to strengthen trust between “We the People” and our government.
  • By the end of the weekend, each team will propose the text of a new amendment and then present and defend that amendment to the other participants.  Participants will “vote” on each proposal, and the team that receives the most votes will be awarded scholarships.
  • Participants will gain a better understanding of constitutional government and the problems that currently affect it.  [Aligns with AP’s Mission]
  • Participants will gain experience working together with an ideologically diverse team and build skills in constructive disagreement.  [Aligns with BridgeTX’s Mission]
  • Participants will be exposed to the work of both American Promise and BridgeTX with the hope that they continue to be engaged with both organizations long after the event.  [Aligns with both missions]

Zoom Registration

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