Articles on Civic engagement

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In what became one of the defining moments of his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, Republican candidate John McCain takes back the microphone from Gayle Quinnell, who said Barack Obama “was an Arab.” The moment occurred during a town hall meeting on Oct. 10, 2008, in Lakeville, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

What we can learn from John McCain’s civic vulnerability

John McCain did something during the 2008 U.S. presidential election that would seem very out of place today: he made himself vulnerable by speaking up about the character of opponent Barack Obama.
How does searching affect voting? Blablo101/Shutterstock.com

When will Google defend democracy?

Social media sites aren't the only online systems that can secretly influence people's votes. Search engines can too and may be even more successful – and undetectable.
Students walk out of school in March 2018 as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence. Lynne Sladky/AP

Could protest curb school violence? Lessons from the opt-out movement

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called for a school boycott to change the nation's gun laws and make schools safer. A scholar who studies protest explains how the boycott could work.
Thousands of high school students across the US walked out of their schools to protest gun violence and to call for changes to gun laws. EPA/Tannen Maury

How lowering the voting age to 16 could save democracy

Lowering the voting age to 16 would bring the age of political responsibility more in line with the age of criminal responsibility and the age of informed consent for medical procedures.
Protesters carry signs during a march for science Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Denver. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Want to change federal policies? Here’s how

One of the best ways to shape public policy is for experts to submit detailed, technical information through the public comment process.
Brisbane cycle path signage: Slow! Michael Coghlan

We should create cities for slowing down

Smart cities are usually optimised like a business for speed and efficiency. Placemaking can slow down cities to improve health and wellbeing and promote more democratic engagement of citizens.
It may be accepted wisdom that Australians are disengaged from politics, but there are plenty of other indicators to suggest otherwise. AAP/Richard Wainwright

Australians couldn’t care less about politics? Really?

We may believe that Australians are disengaged from the political process, but that may be because we're not looking in the right places.
Polls are open. Which campaigns’ ground games will outlast the election? AP

Getting out the vote: not all ground games are alike

In the final Election Day push, more and more focus is being shifted to the “ground game,” or the effort campaigns make to identify and turn out voters. From Massachusetts to Alaska, New Hampshire to Colorado…
Senator John Faulkner’s call for political parties to re-engage with Australians through social media is laudable, but his own efforts illustrate how much politicians have to learn. Facebook/John Faulkner

Politics as usual? Ailing parties fail to get to grips with social media

After his speech about party renewal last week, I went to Labor Senator John Faulkner’s Facebook page. It has about 2700 likes. The page features links to speeches and pictures of events that Faulkner…

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