Josh Feigelson

We The People, and We, Our Media

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

On this Independence Day, my questions are: Who are we, and Who is We?  


Distrusting Institutions, and Each Other

Who Represents You?

I have an old friend who has been saying for years that we should expand the House of Representatives to 10,000 members. Yes, 10,000 members.

Why? The Constitution, written in 1787, states that “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand,” (Article I, Section 2). Today, with a population of 300 million and a fixed membership of 435 (per a law passed in 1929), the ratio is 1:690,000. To get to the original ratio the Constitution prescribes, we would need, as my friend notes, 10,000 members of the House.

The Judy Company

Last summer my dad moved out of the office he had worked in for 40 years. My dad is the kind of person who keeps a lot of things, so when he moved out there was a lot to discover. Among the things he found was a bunch of old merchandise from the Judy Company, which my grandfather (his father-in-law), Hy Berman, founded and ran for close to 40 years himself.

Hymie (he asked us to call him Hymie) died ten years ago this month, at the ripe old age of 97. And, in one last alignment of the stars, I moved into a new office on the first of the month.

Doing It Tech Free

I had the great pleasure recently of hearing a keynote presentation by Sherry Turkle at the Jewish Funders Network conference. Turkle is a professor of psychology and sociology at MIT and the author of several books, including her two most recent titles, Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other, and Reclaiming Conversation: The power of talk in a digital age.

Trust, Authority, and Institutions: A Way Forward (Part I)

If there is a silver lining to the deep political divisions affecting our country and much of the world, it’s that many of us are doing more serious political reflection, and engagement, than we have in the past. And we can do it with the help of advances in our scientific knowledge.

Recently, I came across two different articles that speak to our work at Ask Big Questions.

Empathy and Advocacy

Like many other Americans, I went to bed early on the morning of November 9, shocked at an election outcome virtually no one had predicted. I knew I would have a hard time falling asleep, even at 1 a.m., so I turned on the light to read. The night before I had finished volume two of Taylor Branch’s epic history of the American Civil Rights Movement, so that night I began volume 3.

Far from settling me to fall asleep, it only raised more questions.

How to Build a Better Debate

Over a staff lunch on Tuesday, Team ABQ was debriefing the presidential debate when our Director of Assessment, Pablo Rangel, told us, “I actually started taking notes. I wrote down all the questions, their responses, and the questions I thought they could have asked.”

Pablo confessed he did this to keep himself from throwing something at the television. But that got us thinking about the questions and how they were crafted, and what the shape of the questions might teach us.