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Future Hindsight is a weekly podcast that aims to spark civic engagement through in-depth conversations with citizen changemakers. American democracy is a living, breathing mechanism whose well-being deserves to be cultivated and protected, and now more than ever, the need to be an engaged citizen is critical. We explore how each of us has the power to shape our society and fulfill our shared civic responsibility.

Nov 3, 2018

Voting

People broadly agree that voter turnout should be higher and that voting should be easier, for example by making Election Day a holiday. Although everyone over age 30 is convinced that voting is a fundamental way to create change, only half of young people agree. Surprisingly, a quarter of Americans are unsure about the most fundamental requirement to be eligible for voting: you have to be a citizen.

Demographic Changes

America is no longer a majority white Christian country. However, the diversity in the American religious and ethnic landscapes today will not show up at the ballot box until 2024, if current turnout rates stay the same. Because the voting population is primarily older and whiter, the ballot box rewinds the demographic change clock by about a decade. Bucking the trend this year, black women are poised to turn out at much higher rates than they historically have.

Partisanship

Our nation’s tribalism has devolved to the point where many have stopped examining the issues and instead have used them to indicate their partisan loyalty. Seven in ten Americans have said that they need a break from the news because it is so exhausting. Public schools are less integrated than in the 1980s, and churches are becoming increasingly partisan as well as mono-racial. One sliver of hope is that at the local level, people are putting aside their differences to make their communities better.

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Robert P. Jones, Ph.D. is a leading scholar and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.