Statement from Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship Cochairs Danielle Allen, Stephen Heintz, and Eric Liu on the events in Washington D.C.

line drawing of three people talking, one with a micrphone, superimposed on a wall of newspaper clippings

January 6, 2021

Our commission recommended many strategies for reinventing our American democracy. But they all boil down to something fragile and indispensable: faith in our Constitution and each other. When a president incites insurrection against the Constitution and the rule of law, and turns the people against each other and toward disunion, every leader of every institution in the United States must condemn it. We do so today. And we redouble our commitment to the work of building common purpose and making our constitutional democracy worth believing in.

About the Commission

The two-year bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship launched in 2018 as a project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to explore how best to respond to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our political and civic life and to enable more Americans to participate as effective citizens in a diverse 21st-century democracy. The Commission recognized that the political culture of the United States and the makeup of its population have both changed dramatically in recent decades. From “fake news” to partisan polarization to the rise of social media, the environment in which citizens gather information and engage with one another and with their government is entirely different from what it was at the turn of twenty-first century.

Most of the Commission’s work was completed before the coronavirus crisis and before the nationwide protests for racial justice; the problems of governance that are glaringly obvious now were clearly apparent then. The country has successfully reformed its governing system several times in the past in response to governing crises. Another of these occasions for renewal has now arrived. The Commission recommends reform to political institutions, investment in civil society, and transforming our political culture. With these 31 recommendations the Commission seeks to achieve empowerment for all, responsive and effective governance, and a resilient and healthy civic culture, characterized by a shared commitment of Americans to one another and constitutional democracy. 

The Project

The Commission spent two years engaging with communities all over the U.S. to explore how best to respond to the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in our political and civic life. Its final and bipartisan report, Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, was released in June 2020 and includes six strategies and 31 ambitious recommendations to help the nation emerge as a more resilient democracy by 2026, the nation’s 250th anniversary. 

The report and its recommendations seek to increase citizens’ capacity to engage in their communities, call attention to promising local initiatives around the country, combat rising threats to democratic self-government, and rebuild trust in political institutions.

The Six Strategies

The Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship identified 31 recommendations grouped among six strategies to reinvent American democracy for the 21st century:

  • Equal Representation
  • Empowered Voters
  • Responsive Government
  • Connected Communities
  • Social Media as Civic Media
  • Culture of Shared Commitment

Members of the Commission

Members of the Commission—including some of our country’s foremost leaders from academia, civil society, politics, and business and across the ideological spectrum—put aside differences to reach unanimous agreement on a set of solutions that touch our political institutions, civil society, and civic culture. The Commission co-chairs are Danielle Allen, Stephen B. Heintz, and Eric P. Liu. Center Director Marie Griffith is a Commission member.

Find out more about the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship and its report Our Common Purpose at
Find out more about the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at