What is an important thing that we Americans can do together that we can’t do alone?
Build a better future.
What about your country makes you proud? Your state? Your community?
I am proud of the values that we were founded on, which includes a commitment to the constant reinvention and the reinvigoration of our democracy. My home state is North Carolina (go Tar Heels!) I’m proud of the state’s strong legacy of investing in high-quality education for all – I’m a product of that. While the state has had a tougher time of it in the last few years, our story is one of being in it all together. Government, in many ways, is the vehicle by which we realize that on a day-to-day basis.
What do you think it means to be a good citizen?
My opinion is that being a citizen involves more than a piece of paper you hold – its about how you live your life as an active participant in the world around you. Another way of putting it is acting on what you stand for.
What one word describes our government as it is?
What one word do you wish described our government?
Forward-thinking and pro-active.
If you could run a government program or agency what would it be?
I only know it from afar, but I love the vision of the New Urban Mechanics network (a civic innovation network). It started in Boston and it’s spread to other cities – I think it’s a compelling model that could go beyond a focus on technology.
What thing that government does do you think would surprise most Americans?
This is a hard question. People have such a wide variance of knowledge on government, its services, and its results. Many people don’t know that traffic lights exist because of government, that the Food and Drug Administration keeps our food safe as a government agency. It’s also not that citizens don’t know that government does these things, it’s that we don’t think about it.
What is your first memory of an interaction with government?
For obvious reasons, the first time I knew I was interacting with government was going to the DMV to get my driver’s license.
But before that, I heard about the importance of government in our lives from my grandmother who worked for the Internal Revenue Service. She told us about why she did there and why she believed so strongly in government as a positive force in our lives.
What was your most recent government interaction?
Applying for one of the passes to get pre-checked through the airport. It’s a relatively seamless process.
What is your favorite thing that government does?
My favorite thing government does is involve citizens in the decision-making process. While people separate ‘government’ and ‘politics,’ mentally, government is a reflection of our representative democracy. So I’d make the case that our best government function is a process – getting and keeping citizens involved in how we run our country.
Who is your government hero who is not an elected official?
Eleanor Roosevelt is my government hero. She was never elected to any office, but she was deeply involved beyond her role as first lady. She was a force in our international governance structures, built government up to respond to the Great Depression, and actively stood for the issues she cared about in the public sphere.
ImagineGov: Imagine your ideal government. What is it doing? If government could be anything, what would you want it to be?
Easy – it would seamlessly deliver, actively involve citizens, and reflect the values and diversity of the American public.
Why is the work of Indivisible so important?
We could all be reminded that we’re part of a common experiment together.
Name someone whose answers to these questions you would like to see.
High school students.
An Interview with Indivisible.