While extreme polarization is on everyone’s mind these days, what if that is just a distraction keeping people from seeing the real problem: that Americans are losing our ability to self-govern. And we don’t even realize it’s happening.

On this episode of the Civil Squared podcast, host Jennifer Thompson is joined by Tony Woodlief, Author of the new book I, Citizen: A Blueprint for Reclaiming American Self-Governance. During the conversation, Tony shares stories from his book and discusses political polarization, incentives of the political class, and practical tips for people to make a difference in their communities.

Each side of the political class is incentivized to change the rules, Tony believes, so they can create a permanent advantage. This keeps them in control longer and lowers the ability of citizens to exercise power and make decisions. He discusses how this impacts everything from regulations that affect local libraries to where and how our country’s troops are deployed.

And while he frames up the conversation around the analogy of a big con that’s taking place, ultimately, this is the story of hope. America is more united than divided, Tony says, and the conversation focuses on what we can do to reclaim authority over our lives and communities.

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Show Notes:

I, Citizen: A Blueprint for Reclaiming American Self-Governance

Is American in ‘a Cold Civil War’? Not at all. Governing – Tony Woodlief

Beyond Adversary Democracy – Jane Mansbridge

You can follow Tony on Twitter or learn more about him and some of his writing on his website.

About our guest:

Tony Woodlief is a political science expert and executive vice president at State Policy Network, an organization that has a long history of building state-based groups and leaders. SPN believes states and communities, not Washington, DC, can better solve the problems that matter most to American families. That’s why SPN advances state-based solutions to public policy issues. In I, Citizen, Tony conducted extensive research on American public opinion to find out what Americans believe and uncover the source of their political animosities. Tony is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan and an MFA from Wichita State University. He currently resides in North Carolina with his wife and six children.