Americans are becoming more and more socially isolated. The divide between urban and rural America is much wider than it used to be, and it’s a larger determinant of one’s partisan leanings than almost any other metric. America is sorting itself into distinct groups and losing empathy for fellow Americans.
In order to maintain a shared sense of America, we need to end this trend. Our differences and our debates have made us great, but we’re currently too able to avoid those discussions by surrounding ourselves with only those who agree with our point of view. The more our bubbles reflect only our views, the easier it is to view other Americans as enemies instead of friends with whom we disagree.
It’s imperative that we stop this trend. One way to do so is to ensure that all Americans have an opportunity during their public education to visit areas of America they otherwise wouldn’t and engage with fellow citizens they might otherwise not meet.
I will initiate the American Exchange Program, through which high school seniors will travel throughout different parts of the country in groups to make friends from different backgrounds and learn about American culture that they would otherwise lack exposure to. While spending time in these areas, these students would participate in local social events and volunteer for local organizations, thus feeling a part of these communities.
Right now it’s far too easy for Americans to generalize about people in another state or region or walk of life. If we have each high school graduate spend time with a diverse set of graduates in different parts of the country, they would forever form a different, deeper and broader understanding of what it means to be an American. It would improve our culture and politics immeasurably over time. Plus, every 18-year old would love a road trip.
Problems to be Solved
- Americans are increasingly divided, lacking empathy for fellow citizens with whom they disagree
- It’s become easier for us to retreat into our bubbles and view fellow citizens as “the other” or “the enemy”
- Most people don’t experience the variety of culture that is on offer throughout America
- Political polarization is at an all-time high which is making it very difficult to form a consensus on solutions or common goals.
- Civic engagement
- Create a shared culture based on empathy
- Highlight our shared humanity rather than our partisan differences
- Instill the value of social service and civic engagement on our children as they develop into adults
As President, I will…
- Initiate the American Exchange Program as part of our public education system, to foster civic engagement while introducing young Americans to fellow citizens they would otherwise not have an opportunity to meet.
- Prior to receiving their Universal Basic Income, high school graduates would embark on a multi-regional exchange program to different regions and communities. Civic education would be included in the programming so that each person has a higher sense of citizenship. This program would last for at least six weeks to allow for students to become sufficiently immersed in the new location.