Why Civics Credentialing?

"Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who
would protect the rights and privileges of free men" - Dwight Eisenhower

Polarization is undermining Our democratic republic

The United States has become increasingly divided into warring, hyperpartisan camps.  Each camp exists in its own bubble of information unified by their joint disdain for the other camp.  This toxic polarization threatens the institutions and processes that support our democracy. Our government is increasingly paralyzed with doubt being cast on the validity of the core elements of our democracy from elections to the judiciary.

The “Subversion Dilemma” leads to undemocratic behavior

Studies show that although there is broad support and agreement on the fundamental principles of democracy, there is also widespread belief that the “other side” does not support these principles. This dissonance between perception and reality creates what researchers call the “subversion dilemma:” If Americans think the other side is anti-democratic, then they believe their own leaders are justified in committing similar acts to “save democracy.” Perception then becomes reality. The difficulty in undoing polarization is that focusing on anti-democratic behavior strengthens the subversion dilemma by increasing the belief that the other side is the problem.

Our shared support of democratic principles can heal our divides

The good news is that studies also show that polarization can be successfully mitigated by establishing important common ground and a shared identity. Our shared support of the principles and processes of democracy can be a powerful foundation for that identity. In 2022, 776 candidates with a roughly even split between left and right, signed Team Democracy’s Safe and Fair Elections Pledge. Hundreds of nonprofits like Braver Angels and Living Room Conversations run programs demonstrating that we can bridge our seemingly irreconcilable differences. Yet these activities are often drowned out by the cacophony of apocalyptic comments from politicians and the media that feed the subversion dilemma.

Credentialing can reinforce our core values

Credentialing Systems are successful at improving the quality, effectiveness, and value of dozens of professions, from medicine to project management. The Civics Credentialing System (CCS) will strengthen our constitutional democracy by establishing a framework that incentivizes democracy-friendly behaviors on the part of citizens, candidates, officeholders, and organizations. The system will:

1. Socialize and normalize the skills that support our democracy.
2. Connect individuals and groups to organizations and activities that strengthen our democractic institutions
3. Increase the impact of democracy-friendly efforts and the resilience of our democracy.

Civics credentialing is aligned with key democracy Initiatives

The Civics Credentialing System aligns with the five Democracy Goals, articulated by More Perfect, These Democracy Goals were developed by leading democracy practitioners from a variety of disciplines and drive collective action for democratic renewal. They include:

1.Civic Learning
2.Volunteering & Service
3.Bridging Divides
4.Elections & Governance
5.Trusted Information

Credentials that represent democracy-strengthening skills, commitments, training, actions, and achievements, can be earned within and across these democracy domains. All credentials in the Civics Credentialing System must be non-partisan and democracy-affirming. Recognized experts, representing a diversity of political perspectives, establish a core set of skill credentials within each domain. Individual nonpartisan organizations also issue badges that adhere to the Civics Credentialing Standards.