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Public Agenda’s Nonpartisan Voter Guides Help Citizens Face Tough Choices

By Allison Rizzolo, Senior Communications Associate, Public Agenda

This election season, Public Agenda‘s nonpartisan Citizens’ Solutions Guides  provide a roadmap for voters to navigate through some of the trickiest, yet most important, issues facing the country today.

A healthy democracy requires the active engagement and participation of its citizens. Unfortunately, too many young people–and adults, too–feel left out of the democratic process. They don’t think they have the skills or the knowledge to participate. Hostile partisan rhetoric leads many into abject cynicism or the sort of wishful thinking that won’t get us anywhere.

The Citizens’ Solutions Guides seek to remedy this situation, providing civic education resources to help us confront our problems in thoughtful and productive ways that will lead to sustainable solutions.

Citizens don’t need to be experts to weigh in on our options– we just need a few basic facts to understand the tradeoffs and consider our solutions. To this end, the Solutions Guides:

  • provide the background necessary for understanding these complex issues;
  • examine some of the approaches endorsed by candidates and policymakers from across the political spectrum; and
  • look at some of the pros and cons for these approaches, from a variety of perspectives, so citizens can understand and weigh the tradeoffs inherent in any pathway forward.

In this way, citizens can think through what’s most important to them as they decide on the candidate that will receive their vote.

The Citizens’ Solutions Guides are written in approachable language and without the wonk or the rhetoric. The series is grounded in Public Agenda’s Choicework approach to deliberation, which helps get voters out of an either/or, politicized frame of thinking to start focusing on practical solutions.

The guides, made possible by the generous support of The Dilenschneider Group, tackle 6 important policy issues: the federal budget, energy, health care, immigration, education, and jobs and the economy.  The guides can be used as discussion starters for community and group conversations in libraries and classrooms. Each guide is available as a free, interactive PDF, which can be accessed at

For more information about Public Agenda or the Citizens’ Solutions Guides, email Allison Rizzolo at Join the conversation on Twitter! Use hashtag #Solutions2012, and find us at @PublicAgenda.

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