Ideas + Practice

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Madison Initiative

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Q&A with Stuart Butler: What does it take to turn ideas into government action? 

Stuart Butler, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, is no stranger to working across the political spectrum on complex issues. Previously, he spent 35 years at the Heritage Foundation as director of the Center for Policy Innovation and vice president for Domestic and Economic Policy Studies. He has worked with lawmakers and…

In a polarized era, efforts to boost bipartisanship in Congress 

Dysfunctional. Hyper-partisan. Unproductive. Those are among the words now most commonly used to describe Congress. What was once considered a revered branch of the federal government has become a place of enormous bitterness and friction. Public approval of Congress now hovers just above 10 percent, a huge drop from nearly 50 percent less than 20…

How Do We Know How Congress is Doing? 

Our work at the Madison Initiative remains squarely focused on improving conditions for dialogue, negotiation, and compromise in Congress. But one question we continue to wrestle with is this: How do we know how Congress is doing? Some Congressional observers have looked at metrics around “legislative productivity,” bemoaning recent Congresses as the “least productive” ever. ...

An Emergent Approach to Philanthropic Strategy 

Madison Initiative Program Officer Kelly Born wrote this piece as a guest post for the Social Velocity blog. It appeared there earlier this week. -Ed. In March of 2014, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation launched a new initiative focused on US democracy reform, The Madison Initiative. The overarching goal is to “help create the conditions in which Congress and ...

Millennials, Media, and Politics 

Social media has become Millennials’ top source for politics. A great new study by the Pew Research Center, released this week, finds that a solid 61% of Millennials say they get political news from Facebook, versus just 39% of Baby Boomers. Gen Xers like me bridge the gap at 51%.  “Millennials and Political News” is ...

Seven Practices of Highly Effective Strategists 

Flip charts and post-its will only take you so far. (Photo Credit: Samuel Mann, licensed under CC BY 2.0) Like laws and sausages, organizational strategies are best appreciated once they have been made. Busy nonprofit executive directors, in particular, often experience strategic planning as a frustrating time sink of cat-herding, budget-massaging, and word-smithing. Still, nonprofits do better ...

The Effects of Fact-Checking 

Fact-checking is everywhere, but does it have any impact? This was one of my biggest questions coming out of an American Press Institute (API) conference I attended in Washington this past January. The growth of fact-checking is indisputable: The number of fact-checking stories – from groups like Factcheck, FactChecker (home of the “Pinocchios”), and Politifact—increased by more than 50% between 2004 and 2008. From 2008 ...
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