Feb 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Vanderbilt launches "Project on Unity & American Democracy"

Mike Allen
Black girl in Nashville
Vanderbilt's hometown of Nashville was a center of the civil rights movement. Photo via Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy

Vanderbilt University, in the red state of Tennessee, today launches the Project on Unity & American Democracy, seeking to counter America's drift from evidence and reason, toward ideological certitude and reflexive partisanship.

Details: The project — co-chaired by historian Jon Meacham, former GOP governor Bill Haslam and former Obama White House fellow Samar Ali — will conduct case studies, host conversations, and engage with business leaders, faith leaders, and urban and rural voices to elevate reason in an age of passion.

Meacham tells me this matters because Vanderbilt is devoting a lot of resources to making a case — showing, not telling — that evidence and reason have been essential to create just enough unity in America to give us our finest hours:

  • "From Social Security in 1935 to the Marshall Plan, from the interstate highways to federally-led science education after Sputnik, from civil rights to the Cold War, enough Americans were open to political, moral, and economic arguments to agree on courses of action that made America, if not perfect, at least stronger and fairer."

Go deeper: The co-chairs make their case in TIME. ... Watch a video.

Go deeper