Wednesday, November 9, 2016
This is my week to blog. No matter whether you cheer the results of last night or despair over them, the campaign highlighted a deep divide in this country that goes beyond mere policy disagreement. The existence of that divide was evident (or at least, should have been evident) far earlier than 2:30 am EST last night.
I sat at my keyboard last night and the night before, preparing to write one thing, then preparing to write another thing, and ultimately staring at a relentlessly blank page, wordless. Not that I didn't have a ton to say, mind you - but it's not for here. Not for this blog, which is dedicated to the role of nonprofits and the rule of law. So I went looking today - looking for insight and cool reflection, for direction and structure, looking for a way to process that which divides us so we can, at the very least, talk to one another again. Is there a role that we, the nonprofit sector, can play in that process?
My search brought me to this 1988 article by Barbara Bucholtz entitled "Reflections on the Role of Nonprofit Associations in a Representative Democracy," published well before the tumult of this election cycle. In the introduction, Professor Bucholtz states as follows:
This article concludes that the nonprofit sector makes a significant, probably pivotal, contribution to the American form of representative democracy in at least three respects. First, the nonprofit sector teaches the skills of self-government. Second, it inculcates the habits of tolerance and civility. Finally, it mediates the space between the individual and the other two sectors of society, that is, the "public" or governmental sector and the "private" or "entrepreneurial" or "proprietary" sector. Thus, the nonprofit sector acts as a counterpoise against excessive displays of power emanating from the public or private sectors.
I do recommend the article in full (cite: Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol 7, Iss. 2, Article 8, available both on SSRN and at the Cornell website ((linked above)). One might agree or disagree with the theories espoused therein, or take (or not take) the lessons from the Slovakian example described in the Article, but all of that is a bit beside the point at this immediate moment. For me, the article is a welcome reminder that what we do in the nonprofit sector is important, and will continue to be important as we try to bridge the divide that separates us over the coming months and years.
Wishing all of you peace and grace, EWW