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Posts by American Democracy Project

Achieving the American Dream – Economic Inequality in the 2016 Presidential Election

By Renee Baharaeen, AASCU Civic Engagement Intern and Truman State University Student

With the upcoming 2016 presidential election approaching, several politicians have recently declared their candidacy for President of the United States. Although it is still early, it is important to pay attention to the ideas each candidate holds in regard to their vision for the country.

A pressing issue facing America is economic inequality. ADP and TDC recently launched their joint Economic Inequality initiative, making this a timely issue. Although some argue economic mobility is not of public concern, others say the issue is gaining attention and that Americans believe there is a problem with the wealth gap (Nyhan, 2015; Blake, 2015). In past years, this issue has not received a lot of focus by a majority of candidates; however, current presidential candidates from both major political parties have recently addressed the topic.

The following information is an overview of some of the front runners’ thoughts from each major political party in regard to inequality, which is likely to remain a key topic in the 2016 presidential race.

Republican Candidates:

jeb bush.PNGJeb Bush has taken a stance on economic inequality that differs from the usual Republican position. Instead of citing unemployment statistics, Bush’s approach has been discussing the economic advancements in the country and how they have only been working for the more affluent families (Martin, 2015). His website discusses issues of poverty as a concern. He believes if Americans are working harder, then the government leaders need to offer a plan to fix the situation, or step aside. Voters should be aware of the rhetoric in Bush’s approach. When asked about specifics of his policies, he did not offer a clear explanation as to if he would work to develop policies focused on assisting those at the bottom or favor cutting taxes across the board.

donald trumpDonald Trump, currently leading in the Republican polls, has made comments in response to his opponents’ platforms relating to economic inequality. However, Trump has not released any information regarding his own economic platform other than these brief comments. In his announcement speech he claims, if elected, he will be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” It is important voters pay attention for details about how Trump plans to improve the economy and address issues of inequality if elected president.


scott walkerScott Walker has been running his campaign thus far on his previous experience as the Wisconsin Governor. His website currently has no information on where he stands on any issues. However, as he has been on the campaign trail, Walker has referenced his policies for the state of Wisconsin as a success and therefore believes he can bring his skills to the table as president. While Walker emphasizes the success of his policies, others in Wisconsin disagree with the success (Bauer, 2015). Voters should pay attention to the results of how his economic policies in the state of Wisconsin turn out and if the economic platform he creates for his presidency addresses any of the concerns.

Democratic Candidates:

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton believes the economy is stacked in favor of those at the top. In order for Americans to get ahead, Clinton has developed ideas on how to improve the economy to provide Americans with a strong foundation that leads to social mobility. Some of these economic changes include raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable, providing quality childcare, and lowering health costs. Additionally, Clinton’s platform indicates wanting to rein in Wall Street after the bailout of 2008. An important note that voters should pay attention to is Clinton’s past work with Wall Street in recent years.

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders is focusing heavily on economic inequality, as his platform currently shows the issue to be one of his top concerns. Currently, there are no developed ideas listed on his website about specific ways he intends to address the economic inequality issue. However, as a senator, his economic agenda has included raising the minimum wage, taking on Wall Street, making college affordable and making healthcare a right for all. Sanders is also currently working on a bill to break up big banks. It is important for voters to watch for specific ideas on how Sanders plans to achieve economic equality if elected as president.

American Democracy Project 2015 Annual Report

Check out this infographic annual report by ADP intern Renee Baharaeen!

Read more

What’s New with ADP? Summer 2015 Edition

by American Democracy Project on July 30, 2015




What We’re Reading 

  • Wilderness and the Common Good-A New Ethic of Citizenship
    University of Wisconsin La Crosse political science faculty member Jo Arney has a new book out — Wilderness and the Common Good: A New Ethic of Citizenship (Fulcrum, 2015). Arney is one of the ADP faculty members leading our Stewardship of Public Lands 2015 faculty seminar as well as curating the emerging Stewardship of Public Lands AASCU National Blended Course. Read more here.
  • New Report on the Health of State Democracies
    The Center for American Progress (CAP) released a new report about the health of state democracies.  At a panel discussion in early July, Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-VA), former state senator Nina Turner (D-OH), political/election law attorney Dara Lindenbaum, and Senator Richard Katz (R-ME) shared their thoughts about the topic with moderator Michele Jawando of CAP. Read more here.

#CLDE15 Meeting in Review: Leveraging Academic and Student Affairs Partnerships to Advance Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement
Our recent 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Meeting in New Orleans, La. brought together a collection of faculty, students, administrators, community partners and representatives from our national sponsor and partner organizations committed to advancing civic learning and democratic engagement through higher education. Collectively, we considered one of higher education’s civic missions: to act as stewards of the communities they inhabit as well as to prepare students to be stewards of their present and future communities. Read more here.

Examining Economic Inequality at SUNY Cortland
In June, SUNY Cortland, one of 30 campuses participating in our ADP/TDC Economic Inequality Initiative, launched a monthly series of lunchtime talks addressing issues of economic inequality. The goal of the initiative is to bring together the area’s campus and community members to study the relationships between economic inequality, public policy, business opportunity, social mobility and civic engagement. Members discuss issues that include student loan debt, a livable hourly wage, and poverty. Read more here.

AASCU Policy Publication: Partnering for Prosperity
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is pleased to present Partnering for Prosperity: Advancing the Institutional and State Agenda Through an Effective Collegiate State Relations Program. The report reflects AASCU’s longstanding efforts in fostering optimal state relations and state policy enabling America’s public colleges and universities to fully serve the public good. Read more here.

Partners & Friends



August 1-6:  ADP’s 2015 Stewardship of Public Lands Faculty Seminar in Yellowstone
September 17:  Constitution Day
September 22:  National Voter Registration Day
November 3:  Election Day

What We’re Reading | Research on Low Youth Turnout and Registration Rates


CIRCLE: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement recently released an analysis of Millennial voter registration and turnout rates after the 2014 midterm election yielded the lowest number of ballots cast by 18-29 year-olds in U.S. history.

Based upon data from the November 2014 midterm elections released from the United States Census, CIRCLE examined the “under-mobilization” of youth in comparison to the increase in campaign funding, and stressed the importance of outreach. In a separate but connected report, they investigated what young people look for in candidates in order to offer ideas for engagement for this demographic.

Read the interpreted Census data here.

Then, check out the candidate qualities that youth are concerned about here.

Reach for College! College Readiness Institute

By Renee Baharaeen, AASCU Civic Engagement Intern and Truman State University Student

The College Readiness Institute – hosted in Washington, DC by Reach for College! – brought together educators and community organizers this past week to learn about preparing students for college success.

The first day of the institute featured influential guest plenary speakers including Terry Reed (George Washington University), Eric Waldo (White House Reach Higher Initiative), Ivory A. Toldson (White House Initiative on HBCUs), and Tobi Printz-Platnick (The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation). The speakers shared their insights about education and problems currently facing the U.S. system as well as ways they believe the country can improve.

On day two of the event, students from George Washington University’s early college program spoke about their current experiences in the education system. The panelists highlighted challenges they faced as well as what allowed them to be successful.

The institute also offered several breakout sessions and workshops to provide educators and community organizations with classroom tactics that will engage students in viewing post-secondary education as a realistic goal. Workshops ranged from teaching strategies for helping students navigate the scholarship process and prepare for the SAT/ACT to addressing the relationship between students, teachers and parents.

Learn more about Reach for College! on the organization’s website.


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