I was thrilled to be invited to play a part in the Redesigning Democracy summit.
As a reporter, I don’t think I've ever seen such a toxic level of divisiveness in politics. People on both sides are profoundly unhappy and angry about the country's direction. Yet most seem to feel more powerless than ever to change it.
It often seems our elected leaders have decided it's safe to turn a blind eye to the collateral damage their political games cause. That's not surprising, given that the latest round of redistricting nationwide essentially guarantees that those in power will stay there, regardless of their performance. The parties have carved up this country to suit their own interests, not the interest of voters.
That's not leadership, and it's not democracy, either. And it's becoming more clear by the day that the current political system is disconnected from reality, more concerned with its own well-being than that of the people it governs.
In Washington, the parties' unwillingness to compromise has brought us to the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff, a poorly thought-out "solution" that could hurt virtually everyone in the country.
Here in Raleigh, Republicans and Democrats have played political chicken this year with the unemployed, as well as with people with mental and developmental disabilities.
If change is to come, and sooner or later it must, I believe it will come from outside the system, led by everyday people who owe no political debts or allegiance, other than a willingness to work with – not against – other people who share a desire to improve their communities and their country.
This conference is looking at ways to help those citizens find new ways to organize, activate and bring about the change they want to see in America. I can’t wait to hear some of the solutions.