Democracy Works

Pete Davis is dedicated to the hard work of democracy

Episode Summary

Many of us can recall the experience of scrolling through our phones or streaming TV apps without ever choosing something to focus on. Pete Davis describes this an "infinite browsing mode" and argues that it creates a culture where democracy can't fully thrive.

Episode Notes

Many of us can recall the experience of scrolling through our phones or streaming TV apps without ever choosing something to focus on. Pete Davis describes this an "infinite browsing mode" and argues that it creates a culture where democracy can't fully thrive. 

Davis is cofounder of the Democracy Policy Network and author of Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing. His work is grounded in the notion of "long-haul heroes," or the people who show up day in and day out to make progress on the issues they care about while building stronger communities in the process. This could be anyone from the go-to event organizer in your town to people who work on nationwide campaigns for issues like racial equality and LGBTQ rights. 

This work has always been difficult, but Davis argues it's even harder now because of the constant distractions that our media environment provides, along with the FOMO and related feelings that prevent us from dedicating ourselves to anything in the long term. We unpack all of that in this episode and discuss how Davis is turning his ideas into action through the Democracy Policy Network.

Related Episodes

There is no "I" in democracy

Additional Information

Dedicated : The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing

Democracy Policy Network

This is What Democracy Looks Like podcast

Pete Davis on Twitter

Episode Transcription

Jenna Spinelle 00:07
Hello, and welcome to democracy works. I'm Jenna Spinelle. We are entering the homestretch of our summer break this week, and bringing you a conversation that I had recently with Pete Davis, who is the co founder of the democracy Policy Network, and author of the book dedicated the case for commitment in an age of infinite browsing. This conversation covers both the intellectual argument for why staying committed to your community or to a cause that you care about, can strengthen our democracy, and provides examples of people who are doing just that on the ground every day, something that we often refer to on the show as doing the hard work of democracy, I think you'll hear that Pete really speaks to both of those perspectives, the 30,000 foot view and the on the ground, putting in the hard work day after day. A huge thank you to shaelyn romney Garrett for putting Pete and his work on our radar when she was on democracy works earlier this year, I think you'll find that this episode is a nice companion to that episode with shaylen. And Pete's book is short and sweet. So there's still time to fit it into your summer reading list. He's also a podcaster. Check out his show. This is what democracy looks like for more stories of everyday people who are working to strengthen democracy. You can find all of those links in the show notes. And I hope you enjoy this conversation with Pete Davis. Davis, welcome to democracy works. Thanks so much for joining us.

Pete Davis 01:42
Thanks for having me on. So glad to be here.

Jenna Spinelle 01:44
So excited to talk with you about your book dedicated, which examine something that a framework you describe as infinite browsing mode, and the ways in which that infinite browsing mode is perhaps detrimental to some of what it takes to build and sustain a healthy democracy and civic culture. Before we get to the democracy part, let's start with infinite browsing mode and tell us what that is.

Pete Davis 02:11
Yeah, you know. So I think the best way to start with infinite browsing mode is to talk about what I call literal infinite browsing mode, which is the metaphor that I use throughout the book, which is unexperienced that I'm sure many of you listeners out there have had I sure have had it I even have had it after writing this book on it, which is that it's late at night, and you start browsing Netflix, or Hulu or Disney plus or something looking for something to watch. And you suddenly enter this haze, because you're scrolling through different titles, you're reading reviews, you're watching a trailer to, but you just can't commit to any given movie or show to watch. And suddenly, it's been 30 minutes, and you're too tired to watch anything. Now you found yourself, oh, gosh, I'm stuck in infinite browsing mode. And I might as well just not watch anything and go to sleep. And that is where I started the speech that inspired this book and started the book itself. Because I feel that we are living in infinite browsing mode in so many aspects of our lives that are much more profound than just the infinite browsing mode of Netflix menu screen. By which I mean, we are keeping our options open, instead of diving in and committing to something because we're worried about picking the perfect thing. And I think this is really important because, you know, we live in a time where there's a lot of problems, a lot of public problems. And this kind of gets into the democracy issue. You know, there's a community in decline, a lot of people feel isolated institutions are feel like they're corrupted and losing the faith of the people that participate in them. There's obvious major political problems, I don't need to explain what those are to the listeners. And there's a feeling of like hopes dashed, we're like living in a cultural desert. But when we asked for guidance on what do we do in this fallen world, we're told by our educational institutions, that the highest virtue is keeping your options open. You know, just make sure you preserve options for your future self. But this is not enough. We, it doesn't help address these problems in the world. It doesn't revive communities, it doesn't revive institutions. It doesn't untie these political problems, and more importantly, internally for ourselves, it doesn't lead to the type of impact and joy and peace that we are looking for. Alternatively, commitment and dedication does. So I'll leave it at that I can kind of go into that further. But that's the spiel at the heart of this book.

Jenna Spinelle 04:45
Sure. So you know, thinking about it from a historical perspective is this problem of infinite browsing mode, whether literally or figuratively as you've just described it, something that is unique to The Internet age or or is it something that, you know, perhaps is just especially prevalent right now because of the the technology landscape but has also existed at other points throughout American history?

Pete Davis 05:14
Yeah, I think it's existed at different points, you know, you can find letters from the founders generation in the 1700s, where people are like, should I do, me and my dad are fighting over whether I should do this, this occupation or that occupation, you know, there's Old English novels on, do I marry this person or that person, you know, so, browsing has always been with us, and especially for young people in their 20s, you know, when you leave the inherited involuntary commitments that you grow up with, and suddenly have liberated yourself from them, you have to grapple with, I've escaped from the locked room. But now I'm in a hallway with 100 doors, and which one do I choose, but I will say there are some factors that are leading to much more browsing today. One is obvious, it's the tech story where our technology, both transportation technology that allows us to travel anywhere, and communication technology that lets anywhere travel to us all or even to the level of in every moment, when you're scrolling through an Instagram feed, seeing you know, all the alternate lives, you could be living, let alone, just the presence, even on the pre Instagram internet of I can go find a message board about any way I could possibly live a million different things to be as the Cat Stevens lyric goes, you know, there are a million ways to be, which is kind of haunting. to us. That is leading to browsing. There's also kind of outside of technology, I think, a cultural story here, which is both, you know, positive and negative. So, which is that institutions that use to help orient you to meaning in your life that used to give you pre packaged constellations of meaning, you know, this is a way to be, this is a way to, you know, here are people today, here are things to believe here are professions to pursue. those institutions have loosen their grip on us, for many good reasons, you know, many of the liberatory stories of the last 100 years are loosening the grips of institutions telling us what to be, but we have to be real about what the consequences of that are, which are, if the institution is not helping us decide what options to take, that means it's all on us to decide what options to take. And that's what I talk about in the book after liberation. You can't just kind of be free and stop there, you know, then you're stuck in the hallway, you're stuck on the menu screen of life, you have to liberate yourself, but then you have to dedicate yourself. And that's the challenge of where we find ourselves stuck between liberation and dedication.

Jenna Spinelle 08:00
Yeah, and, you know, I wonder if the that loosening of the grip by institutions that you were just describing, sort of open the door for the kind of combined forces of technology and capitalism and market based solutions to come in and closer swing that pendulum, perhaps too far in the other direction, too, while it's, you know, best to monetize when we can give people as many choices as possible, or you know, that that type of thing, because it keeps you on the platform longer, it keeps your attention longer, all of all those sorts of things.

Pete Davis 08:34
Yeah, you know, it's, I really think it's a cultural thing that that, like liberatory culture versus dedicatory culture is the way I put it into the book that informs how the technology is designed and marketed. So, you know, when Apple is advertising, you know, the power of the iPhone 15 years ago, they're saying, this is a thing that opens up possibilities to you, you know, Mark Zuckerberg said, with Facebook, this is I still find this funny, I just cannot handle this quote from him. He said, one of my goals is for my the next generation to have 1000 times as many experiences as the generation as my generation, like he wrote it in a letter to his baby child. And he said, I hope you can have 1000 more experiences. But you know, we all have, you know, 70 to 100 years on this earth, like, what does it mean to have 1000 more experiences, but that's what the technology promises. He says, I want to have a Moore's Law of sharing where the amount we share doubles every few years. And, and so what, what is the ideology of that? What's the cultural story of that? It's saying that more experiences, more options, more choices, more ways you can be is an totally is a positive good that has no negative. You know, it's a totally universal good that everyone would agree to, but there's a whole different way. way of thinking about things or supplemental way, I really don't like doing this like browsing bad, committed good. I just want to include another voice in the story, which is usually when you talk to people on their deathbed or you talk to people feel a lot of peace and feel a lot of joy and peace and impact. They're not saying I kept my options open, I had 1000 more experiences than other people isn't great. What they usually say is, I committed to something in my past, my past self committed to something. And that commitment and dedication deepened over time and the magic in my life got deeper and deeper and bolder and bolder. And the community in my life got deeper and deeper and broader and broader. And the sense of mastery and purpose in my life got deeper and deeper and broader and broader, because I chose to commit to something because I chose to pursue dedication and attachment, not just kind of browsing and liberation and maximizing optionality

Jenna Spinelle11:01
There is it sort of a movement that's pushing back against some of these forces? It's kind of the the slow movement I think me as as an as an umbrella term, you know, Slow Food is what you talk about in the book. But there's also slow news and slow democracy describe for us sort of what this slow movement is, and and how it kind of stands in contrast to infinite browsing mode.

Pete Davis 11:27
Yeah, you know, I talked about the alternative is what I call a counterculture of commitment. And I really love the word counterculture, because it shows this implicit idea about society, which is, it's not that society is ever one way totally, unless you're like, in a totally fascist, totalitarian regime or something. There is always counter trends always happening. And so the future that you dream of already exists in the present today, it's just smaller and not dominant. It's the counterculture, not the culture yet. And there is a counterculture of commitment. And it comes in so many different forms. So one form is the slow movement. You know, it started with slow food, where, you know, a bunch of Italians were mad that McDonald's was moving into like a special square in Rome. And they brought to protests a bunch of like cooked Italian pasta. And said, we want to fight back against kind of corporate globalization and talk about, you know, slow conversations over slow food. And that is expanded to a bunch of other industries where people say, we're not going to do the quick, fast and easy way. We're gonna do the slow, deep and simple way. But I talked about in the book, you know, there's a bunch of different areas where there's a counterculture happening. So in the economy, I talk about the culture money versus the culture of particular things. So we all know about, you know, money washing over everything. And you know, people, converting everything into something that can make a quick buck, liquefying everything and flattening everything for profit. But there are push backs of love of particular things anytime someone tries to save the post office or save their beloved local dive bar. Anytime an environmentalist says we should carve out part of our comments to not follow the logic of money. Anytime a campaign finance reformer says let's carve out part of our democracy to not follow the logic of money. Anytime a socialist says we should have some goods that are or social democrat says that we should have some goods that are not following the logic of profit, or a labor union says the hierarchy, you know, our place at work should have commitment to its workers, not just to, not just to the bottom line, that's particular things being fought for over money. In morality. It's a culture of indifference versus a culture of honor. Any time we celebrate someone for living up to community virtue, we're fighting back against a culture of anything goes. Anytime we call someone out and say, what this group is doing, or what we're doing as a group is not following what we what our community values are, what that is, that's prophecy. That's what the prophets of old that they say. They call a community back to its values. That's, that's, that's a counterculture. And then finally, in education, there's a culture of advancement, education, you know, the purpose of education is to give you the tools to keep your options open. But there's a counter culture of attachment education anytime a teacher says, we're going to stop. And I want to tell you all about Sherlock Holmes, because I love Sherlock Holmes. And I want you to love Sherlock Holmes to or stop and say, I want to tell you about what it means to be a nurse. And I want to get instill reverence and duty about the history of nursing and tell you that you're joining the future of nursing as nurses here, not just to make money for yourselves, but to be part of a noble profession. You know, anytime a professor says, You are implicated by your knowledge, I'm about to teach you about climate change, and that knowledge implicates you. And that means that it's not just knowledge for your own sake, it's knowledge that makes you responsible responsibility is the ability to respond, I, as a teacher, I'm giving you an ability to respond. And therefore you have a responsibility. That's education, for attachment for reverence and duty, and the public interest. And so all these countercultures are present right now, a counterculture of commitment, and I wanted to celebrate them with this book.

Jenna Spinelle 15:30
But it seems they these counter cultures need access to the levers of power to be able to become something more than a counter culture. How do you think about that, that part of the problem how to make the people in the institutions and the power structures, pay attention, and perhaps make room for these these types of movements?

Pete Davis 15:56
Yeah, you know, this is with every insurgent idea, you know, it always kind of follows a pattern, it starts with kind of weirdo prophetic voices that think about a different way of living, you know, they write some Manifesto, and they, they're, you know, their process is crazy, then they start carving out space for people that are prefiguring an alternative. And so then you have these little communities grow up, and this is with any insurgent process, then you have little communities grow up, then you truly become a counterculture. When you actually have like, a serious minority, you know, not 1%, but maybe 10% of people living a different way. And then you start moving into the institutions, you know, you start having institutional reform efforts, you know, how can our hospital be different? How can our university be different? How can our, the way we do sustainability in this town be different, you know, then you start moving in and having 10,000, different institutional reform projects, and then eventually, you kind of take major institutions, when, through those institutional reform projects, through the growing of that counterculture, slowly, you build towards the majority of people wanting something to be different. And you eventually start having some politicians that are representing that insurgent group. And then sometimes those politicians win and you kind of take the state. And, and it happens, but it's slow and steady, you know, you follow any of these stories. It starts with, you know, the apple IDs, let's do an example closer time, like the organic movement, you know, it starts and the consumer movement, consumer, environmental, and organic, we're all together, you know, they're kind of all in a loose network, they have different corners, but Ralph Nader, Rachel Carson, you know, Wendell, Berry, all these people in the 60s and 70s, saying, Hey, you know, our world of mass consumerism, spam, total, you know, total, you know, degradation of the environment, total degradation of our own bodies, this seems a little crazy, like total lack of care, total deference to corporate power, you know, it starts with these prophetic books. And then eventually you start getting alternate companies that are saying, We're organic, and then suddenly you get earthday passed, suddenly you get a you know, eventually you gain power, and the EPA becomes an institution. And now, suddenly, you have a whole party devoted to environmental Islam, you know, and you have the whole consumer protection agency, and over time it grows. And it really one of my messages of this book is it doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen in a lifetime. And so it's worth working on these projects.

Jenna Spinelle 18:39
Yeah. And to bring one other example from the political realm into this discussion and also to bring in your concept of long haul heroes who are the people involved in this this process of making these long term changes happen? I think the movement for marriage equality and the LGBTQ movement is also another example of of this process. And you specifically in the book, talk about a guy named Evan Wolfson. So tell us who he is and how he fits into this this long haul hero prototype with with working on the American 

Pete Davis19:17
 I'm so glad you brought this up. One of my favorite people I interviewed 50 long haul heroes. Evan Wolfson was one of my faves. He 19 it's 1983, early 80s. He is in Harvard Law School, he writes his three l paper on a constitutional right to same sex marriage. At the time, this paper would have been considered like a novelty paper, like an interesting science fiction thought experiment that can test you know your legal creativity, but nowhere close to being like something worthy of like the debates at the time, because at the time, the gay rights movement was just fighting kind of almost it being legal to be gay in practice, like, I won't get fired for my job, I won't get kicked out of my house, I can teach in schools, you know, you know, if eventually the fight was like, Can I be at the, you know, can I have a hospital visitation rights for my partner, you know, these basic elements and to have someone talk about kind of the big kahuna, you know, can we have gay marriage, and marriage equality was so out there that even the movement itself wasn't kind of behind him on that. But Evan Wilson writes this paper, and instead of like, you know, treating it as other people treated it like this novel idea, that was a clever thing for third year paper, he decides to start fighting for it. And, and he starts a long walk. And you know, that long walk was over three decades long. And it was a epic journey. It started with convincing the own move his own movement to allow him to take a few cases and put some funds behind it, then it was winning this case in Hawaii, then it was a huge backlash to the case in Hawaii, then it was these dark days in the 90s, where both parties were against it, and then pushing towards can we get one precedent? Can we get civil unions in Vermont? Can we eventually get, you know, Massachusetts became the first stable continuous gay marriage in 2004, then that creates another backlash, and then they have state by state fights between 2004 and 2014. And then finally, there's the end game of can we get enough state by state fight wins from court cases and ballot initiatives and passing that we can work our way up to this big fight at the at the Supreme Court that eventually wins with obergefell in 2015, you know, 32 years after Evan Wolfson began his walk. And again, I don't want to make this individual heroes. It's Evan Wolfson, and hundreds of other leaders in the gay rights movement, but he's been at it from the beginning. And one of my messages with him of the story is, if you it would have been very easy to be cynical, you know, we can even get the right to not be evicted from our house or the right to not be fired from our job. And you're talking about this, you're delusional, why even be optimistic about this oven. And true things take time? You know, Max Weber's said politics is the slow boring of hard boards. But it's not like they eventually happen. 300 years from now, a lot of miraculous things eventually happen 30 years from now, and one of my messages of book is that if you're if if you start now, you will be you know, you'll probably discover that in a year. You know, yeah, you didn't solve the grand problem you were trying to solve, but you will be, I think, almost 100% of the time you will be you will find it miraculous what happens over five years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. And the story of gay marriage is a great example of that.

Jenna Spinelle 22:55
Right? And you also in the process, build a community of like minded individuals, some long haul heroes, maybe some not, you know, everybody's kind of different in that regard, but that that I think, if I understand your you'd correctly in the book that leads to a different framing of things like citizenship and patriotism. Can you talk about what those things look like through this this culture of dedication?

Pete Davis 23:19
Yeah, you know, I first on that first part, you know, one of the joy, I talked about the three things that come with commitment, one is a sense of purpose. You feel rudderless in the world, but then when you start committing to things, you feel this, like, you feel a path forward of what you're meant to do. Another is mastery, you feel like, gosh, who am I, I can't do anything in the world What? I'm not strong. But then suddenly, you become a master at something by dedicating yourself to it. And the final one is community, you feel alone, but then by committing to something you have all these allies and comrades and friends that come with it. And yeah, so that's, that's one spirit of this. Another is I like talking about different types of commitment. And because, you know, I call this the name something in your refrigerator problem where you tell someone Name something in your refrigerator, and they're like, Oh, God, I don't know. But then if you start saying name a white thing in your refrigerator, they're like, okay, eggs, milk, you know, yogurt. And so I wanted to say, I didn't want to just tell people in the book, oh, just commit, commit to anything. I wanted to go. Okay, let's talk about some types of major commitments you can have, and one of them was commitment to place. And I wanted to remind people that there is a sanctified word for commitment to places it's patriot. It's someone who loves a place and loves the people in that place. And I mean, love in a very concrete way. Like it's not you love the idea of the place, which is where you get gross versions of patriotism. It's not that you passively love the place as Bill Kaufman, the great localist writes, you sit on your couch and watch the bombs rain down, and you Clap your hands like a seal. That's not the patriotism we want. It's people who actively say, there's this corner of the world, I could pass over it and browse it and suck it up for all it's worth for my sake to and then go on my merry way. And then there are other people in the world who switched the script and say, I'm going to get rooted here, I'm going to build a relationship with this place, I'm going to tend to it, I'm going to steward it, I'm going to think about the future of it, I'm going to think about where it'll be in 50 years, I'm going to learn the history of it. That's the dig where you stand movement, I'm going to learn all the cool things that happened and draw inspiration from that. And I'm gonna love the people that are part of this. And that's what I mean by commitment to place. And, you know, that can take the form of Peggy berry Hill, who's, you know, was the she's called the first lady of native radio who decided that she wanted to kind of be a community center, her radio station for the native communities on the west coast, or Pierce freelon, who decided he wants to think about the art the future of Durham. And when I interviewed him, he just went on this long rant about all the cool people that were in Durham Spath, and how he wants to build Durham's future or it's Wendell Berry, you know, the famous Kentucky philosopher farmer, who had five generations on one farm in Kentucky, and says, You know, I could read all the science textbooks on the world. And still, I won't know as much as I would know, by just knowing this piece of land and how the rain falls on it, and how the animals like it, and how the soil is. So there's a lot of ways to be a patriot.

Jenna Spinelle 26:31
I have certainly seen perhaps you have or perhaps listeners can conjure people in their minds who sort of I don't want to say overstay their welcome, but are just in these things for so long that a sense of complacency sets in or maybe it goes farther than that. And there's almost kind of a form of corruption, almost where they're just so far in this whatever thing is they're doing, that they're not open to new perspectives or, or new ideas. So how do you how do you guard against that both for yourself? And maybe, you know, how do you help point that out in in cultures or communities you might be part of, if you see it?

Pete Davis 27:11
Amen. I love that question. You know, one of my big messages with this commitment, spirit is that a commitment is a relationship. And a relationship is like a living thing. It is not a finger wagging moralist dead rule of you must always you must never quit, it is a rule in the rule book you are, things will be bad if you quit, you know, if you're thinking that way, that's, that's dead talk, you know, that's not a relationship that's like, that is a dead rule. A relationship is a mutual thing that is living, you know, it has given take it as new ideas come into it, it grows, you know, every living thing you see out in the world, including ourselves, but also the trees and the fish and the dogs and all the like, the fungi, they are all they're not staying in place, they're growing, they have cycles, they eventually, if you think about them broader than just one organism, they die, you know, and then are replaced by other things, they reproduce and make sure to take care of the next generation. And the same goes with everything in civics and democracy, it's like, if you have someone you know, part of, you should have a relationship with the history, the present and the and the future. And, you know, that leads to kind of a healthy commitment where you know, if you're part of a group, you should learn, have learned from the wisdom of the previous people in the group. But you should also know the present reality. And you should also be stewarding it for the future of where things are headed. And that involves, you know, one of the holiest things you can do is train up the next generation of people to be part of this and know when they're the ones that kind of have the energy and vitality for something. And so that's very important to commitment. You know, I've been thinking about like, maybe my next, my next book would be about the opposite. I kind of want to write a thing on surprise. And I thought it'd be funny to have something just on like sticky with something for a long time. But then a thing on disruption. And democracy is kind of a give and take of both, you know, it needs people who act, you know, before we're activists, we're citizens, we must be part of something before we can change it. But you also need democracy is also about fecundity. It's about new ideas and being open and susceptible to change. And so you need both of those ingredients in there.

Jenna Spinelle 29:39
Yeah, so let's, let's end here by talking about some of the ways that you put this culture of commitment into practice. Tell us about the democracy Policy Network and what you're hoping to achieve through that group.

Pete Davis 29:53
Yeah, so some people have asked me you know, what is what is it that you're committed to and I have a bunch of kind of daily life there. You know, while I, while I was writing this book, I got married and moved back to my hometown and things like that. But in professional life, my big commitment is I really care about the project of deepening American democracy. How do we expand more power to more people in more ways? How do we switch the American conception of freedom from Liberty, from power, to participation and power, that we can all co create our shared world and the way that you know the, how do you do that you can't just like write a manifesto and come down from the mountain and talk about that. You. There's this quote, I really love from the philosopher Roberto Unger, where he says, our ideals are nailed to the cross of our institutions, by which he means anytime you have an ideal, the only way it can actually happen in the world, is if you bake them into an institution, and what is the process of baking something into an institution? It's policy reform, that is institutional design, when you have policy ideas, and say, I want the institutions to look like these ideas. And so my, this is kind of a long winded way of saying, I really care about policies for deepening democracy. And so what the democracy Policy Network is, is it's an organization that gathers packages, organizes and amplifies policies for deepening democracy at the state level. So what are ways that state leaders can extend more power to more people in more ways, from public banks to democracy vouchers to prison voting, to worker ownership to green buildings to referendum and initiative to, you know, social housing, a tenant unions, all these different ideas that are burbling up in the States? How do we get them packaged, organized and amplified to the people that can spread them to more places, which are state leaders. And so we organize state leaders make a bunch of policy kits on deepening democracy and then try to connect the two.

Jenna Spinelle 31:59
So you know, a lot of the sort of narrative around state politics over the past six or eight months has been about the ways that they seem to be trying to be trying to restrict democracy, you know, making it more difficult to vote, etc. And in some cases, making it more difficult to do things like collect signatures for a ballot initiative, and on and on, is there a universe in which the things you were just describing about these, like, deep, deeper democratic policies can coexist in a state legislature with these things that that that appear to be more restrictive of democracy?

Pete Davis 32:36
Yeah, you know, the reason that all those things happen, in my view is that the other side has a vision of what they're doing in politics. The other side, their project is ending American democracy, you know, I don't want to mince words about it, they have an interest in expanding less power to less people in less ways and thus give more power to fewer people in more ways. They are open about it when you press them on it. And that's, you know, we have to start calling a spade a spade on this. There are there is an organized group of people in America that have a very clear vision of where they want America to go. The problem is on our side, we don't have a clear vision, we are often very reactive, you know, and sometimes we're reactive, and just saying they're bad, we need to stop them, which is not a very inspiring idea beyond your constituency. What we need to have is learn from the other side and have a positive alternative vision of where our country should go. And my view is, we don't need to reinvent the wheel here. The positive alternative vision is democracy. Continue the project, the unfinished project of deepening American democracy, extending more power to more people in more ways, and talk about it at all levels, you know, and talk about it in the abstract of what do we mean about each of us living in a country where we have mutual respect? What do we mean when we respect your ideas, and want to help you realize them in the world? What do we mean when we say we need communities that welcome the participation of the many, but then we need to do a down payment on that by talking about concrete policies that can do it.

Jenna Spinelle 34:11
I have often said, Pete, that democracy reform needs a project manager, it sounds like you and your organization are prime candidates to serve that role. So thank you for

Pete Davis 34:21
Thank you for that. Appreciate it. We're trying our best.

Jenna Spinelle 34:24
Yeah. So one last thing here. I know you are also a podcaster. I believe you have some of these folks on your show who are out there doing this work at at the state level. Tell us about that and where folks can find it. Yeah,

Pete Davis 34:39

So we want the democracy Policy Network, which you can visit at democracy policy dot network, it's just the name as a URL. And we want it to be very open. We want it to be a big open, like in the spirit of democracy, a big open, intellectual community of people thinking about deepening democracy. So part of that is writing the kits part of that is writing and newsletter on democracy policy on substack. And another part of that is hosting. This is what democracy looks like our in house podcast, which is a podcast about deepening democracy where we bring on people fighting in the States, explaining concretely what you can do to deepen democracy. So it is a, this is what democracy looks like. It's kind of a, you've heard the chance. But it's kind of calling the bluff on the Chan, which is, this is what democracy looks like, is not just a bunch of people in the streets marching, that's one tiny part of democracy. It's all the concrete 100,000 projects that we need to be doing at every level of government and every nook and cranny of this country to open up more power to more people in more ways. So we dip our ladle in the river of all the people doing that and take one out every month or so and, and host a cool interview about that.

Jenna Spinelle 35:52
Well, Pete, we will link to the Democracy Policy Network to this is what democracy looks like and to your book all in the show notes so folks can find you and and keep up with your work and all the media. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Pete Davis 36:07
Thanks for having me on and so appreciate all the wonderful work you're doing to deepen democracy as well.