Creating authentic, actionable connections between citizens and their elected representatives.
Members of Congress and their staff make enormous efforts to represent their constituents authentically. But public servants face immense and increasing challenges to doing so: a hyperpolarized political climate, an ever-rising flood of communication demanding partisan agenda items, and, perhaps most worrying, a citizenry that feels disconnected, with historically low levels of trust in Congress. Much of this discontent stems from citizens’ sense of disconnect— that there is no way for them to participate in meaningful dialogue with their members of Congress.
Members and their offices make enormous efforts to stay connected, but geography, time, and limited staff resources make it very difficult. Over time, this disconnect can have dire consequences for the Member, but also for democracy.
That’s what Connecting to Congress aims to address.
Connecting to Congress addresses the capacity problem all Congressional offices face, by using resources from our universities and civil society organizations to convene these unique deliberative events with a broad swath of your constituency, including the sizable fraction of people who don’t usually participate in politics. And, these deliberative events are more than just a way to do outreach without leaving DC— they produce deeper, longer-lasting gains in trust and support, but they also provide invaluable insights into not only what your constituents think, but why.
But even more importantly, by harnessing these tools to do constituent engagement in a deeper, more useful way, participating offices also help democracy: these events increase people’s trust in not only their Member, but in government and democracy as functioning institutions; they also push citizens past talking points and reduce polarization; and, by revealing where there citizens have found common ground, they provide a path towards stronger, more sustainable policy.