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Tired of all the hyper-partisanship?
Let's do something about it!

Our National Conversation

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Consciously Choosing Optimism in 2024

At OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION, we face a lot of skepticism. 

Some think America is too far gone to want a news and opinion site devoted to showing all points of view.


Others think all the fighting is actually what Americans want; humans are tribal by nature, these observers say, and deep down inside, we just want to thrash and humiliate the other side.


Based on many conversations I've had, I think there are many who don't believe this. People are tired of all the fighting.


Still, others say reducing partisanship in America is a wonderful idea, but they wonder if anybody can actually bring about a less partisan America -- and that we're naive to think we can.


I have been predicting for years that America would soon reach an "enough!" moment and turn away from the media outrage machine, the politicians who specialize in snarky tweets and those who promote anger, disinformation and argumentativeness.


In 2020 I had reached a personal "enough" moment and sought out some student interns to help me brainstorm what OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION would be all about.  I posted an ad seeking 4-5 interns just before COVID-19 broke out.

Because so many students were suddenly losing their other summer internships, or their summer school classes had just closed down, or their summer jobs had evaporated -- and because we were willing to do our internship virtually -- we were inundated with applications (over 2,000 in maybe two months!).


A crisis can be an opportunity in disguise. The students who were applying were scared about the state of America and they wanted to do something about it.

I immediately signed up 92 interns to work with me in the summer of 2020.  We built an organization based on all this youthful energy, and every semester, we have around 90 interns (we've had over 700 total, to date). 


We have student-run policy teams, an HR team, a social media team, a video production team, a podcasting team and more. Several experienced professionals have joined me in providing gentle guidance to our students.


In the last three years, we built a website, we wrote a book ("Let's Fix America," filled with 34 nonpartisan policy proposals) and we now produce a weekly podcast and e-newsletter.  We have some clever ideas in the works intended to make public policy fun and exciting. 


Surrounded by all this youthful energy, I find it hard to be pessimistic. But when I get outside my bubble and talk to others who don't know about us -- and that's just about everybody at this point -- I'm immediately sucked into the vortex of negativity that permeates America today.  Many seem to have given up completely, which I find hard to fathom.  America has been in tough places before; we always find a way to bounce back.


In 2024, our goal at OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION is to make our organization more "real."  We need to garner attention, and hope some media outlets will interview some of our students; we need to raise money; we need to build an audience. We've taken on a lot. But we started with nothing in 2020 except an idea, and now we've built a pretty darned good foundation, I do believe. In 2024, we will begin building the house. 


Maybe ONC is a long shot, but America is worth it, right?


Moreover, our timing might be good, because many big foundations are now entering the "save democracy/save journalism" space. Several big foundations are joining together to raise $500 million that will be used to help save local journalism. This initiative is called "Press Forward." Check it out, it's very exciting.


ONC has local potential; every city needs to conduct its own conversation. Some think we can even go international with our concept. Right now we need to focus and put America first.


Let's give ONC a shot. We might not be perfect, but we might be the best thing going right now. We can improve as we go.


Want to write for us? Want to appear on one of our podcasts? Want to mentor our students? Want to become a strategic partner? How about making a financial contribution to our newly formed non-profit?

If you'd like to discuss any of this, send me an email: editor@ournationalconversation.org.

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