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Reflections on Recent Events

June 3, 2020

Like so many Americans, recent events have battered the Public Agenda team with anger, sadness and anxiety and we are asking ourselves how to respond.

We are thinking about a phrase we use to convey the spirit of our work: Let’s build a democracy that works for everyone. By this we do not mean everyone agrees and is equally satisfied with everything our democracy produces. We mean, as our co-founder Dan Yankelovich has put it, transforming our democracy into “a more just and effective institution” that serves the public interest. The inequities laid bare by the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the long history of discrimination and racism in this country make it painfully clear how far we are from this vision of a truly inclusive democracy that fairly and effectively serves all Americans.

While we strive to reflect that vision in our work, what is clear to us, as it should be for the rest of America, is that we have not been doing nearly enough to realize it. And what we will ask ourselves, and urge all Americans to ask themselves, is how we can do much more to build a democracy that truly works for everyone—not just right now, but in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

In these deeply challenging times there may even be new opportunities to do so—let’s look for them. One step we are taking is to devote the June edition of our Hidden Common Ground initiative to the issue of race and policing. We are dedicated to doing much more going forward and welcome your thoughts and partnership along the way.


Will Friedman

President, Public Agenda