John Wood, Jr.

John Wood, Jr.

John Wood Jr. is a national leader for Braver Angels, a former nominee for congress, former Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, musical artist and a noted writer and speaker on subjects including racial and political reconciliation. Twitter @JohnRWoodJr

The Debate that Keeps on Going…

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[Note: The following is a reprint of the weekend edition of the Braver Angels Newsletter, originally published May 23, 2021. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.]

The 2020 election is more than half a year behind us. But for millions of Americans, the controversy over voter fraud is not in the rearview mirror.

In the state of Arizona, the Republican legislature has authorized an independent audit of the vote from election 2020. It does not appear that this will alter the outcome of that state’s vote in any significant way. Nevertheless, similar efforts are now being considered in Republican-led state houses across the country.

In the aftermath of our previous Braver Angels Debate on voter fraud and voter suppression, we promised to follow up with a podcast discussing the 2020 election more deeply than that format allows. I’m happy to share that conversation with you now: Trust & the Election: Left, Right & Center | Wilfred Reilly, Shouvik Banerjee & Chris Paul with John Wood, Jr.

This is a difficult topic for many Americans to bear discussing. We know this very well at Braver Angels.

Those of you who suspect the election was not conducted fairly will hear perspectives that engage your concerns in good faith.

As for those of you who dismissed long ago any credence to claims that the election was significantly tampered with, I guarantee that you will hear claims in this conversation that you strongly disagree with.

But if you listen closely, you’ll come away from it with a greater understanding of the visceral distrust that those who doubt the election have for the mainstream institutions they see as the true corrupters of our democracy.

Conversation over the integrity of our electoral process does not stop with the subject of voter fraud. This Tuesday, May 25 at 8 p.m. EST we will host a special Braver Angels Debate with experts from each side of the aisle on the subject of HR1: the anti-voter suppression legislation currently under consideration by our Congress that, if passed, would significantly impact how we run elections in the United States of America.

Join our notable speakers — including Zach Beauchamp of Vox Media, former member of congress Dennis Ross (R-FL), Kaylee McGhee White of The Washington Examiner, Osita Nwanevu of The New Republic, and more — and bring your questions. Sign up today for this week’s National Coliseum Debate – Voting in America.

Our confidence in American democracy and the institutions that serve it can never be much stronger than our confidence in one another. All too often we see our neighbors as ideological aliens with bad intentions for our country. When someone wears the wrong hat or bumper sticker we take it as evidence of who can or cannot be trusted.

But each of us is more than the crude stereotypes that such suspicions suggest. If we can access each other’s humanity by summoning our own, if we can learn to reason with one another again — as we endeavored to do, with some effort, in our latest podcast — we can build a culture of democracy in this country that makes our elections worthy of trust for us all.

And that should be our goal.

Here are other events coming up at Braver Angels:

  • Join our upcoming film club discussion of No Safe Spaces featuring talk radio show host Dennis Prager and comedian Adam Carolla on Thursday, May 27, at 8 p.m. EST . The film dives into free speech issues on college campuses. Watch the trailer here.
  • Register now for our next America’s Public Forum event: Reforms to Foster Bipartisanship and Civility in Congress. Featuring Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and William Timmons (R-SC) and co-hosted by the National Institute for Civil Discourse on Wednesday, June 2, at 8 p.m. EST.

The challenge of American polarization is daunting. But our power to create communities of patriotic-empathy is immense. From Los Angeles to New England, Braver Angels members and volunteers are doing the work of social repair that will never happen in America if we wait for Congress or pundits on TV and radio to do it for us.

We have the power to heal America’s communities. We have the power to revive the spirit of American democracy. We need only the will (and the goodwill) to forge our bonds of trust anew.

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