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Bipartisan groups host ‘Un-Convention’ to offer ‘constructive alternative’ to politics

Greg Nash

An amalgam of bipartisan groups advocating for candidates who would “put country over party” are holding an event Friday dubbed the “Un-Convention” to offer an alternative to the traditional political gatherings that every four years anoint Republican and Democratic nominees for president.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, alongside Unite America and Smerconish.com will bring together Democrats, Republicans and independents alike for The Un-Convention 2022 at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center for a day of policy discussion and panels.

Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet said the event, in part, acts as somewhat of a foil to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

“In recent years, the Democratic and Republican Party Conventions have become divisive, reality TV,” Grumet said in a statement. “The Un-Convention offers a constructive alternative for politically engaged Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who want to be part of a real conversation about our nation’s future.”

The day-long Un-Convention will include a slate of current and former lawmakers from across the aisle as well as columnists from varying spaces on the political spectrum, with panels unpacking issues such as the future of American democracy, as well as the sanctity of the country’s electoral system. 

Grumet told The Hill in an interview that he hopes attendees come away having engaged thoughtfully with someone from the other political party, discover a new fact that is interesting to them and leave more energized about the potential for American democracy. 

Speakers will range from Pennsylvania state Rep. Jordan Harris, a Democrat, and state Rep. Torren Ecker, a Republican, who will participate in a panel on the origins of America’s political polarization. Also in attendance is scholar Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., who will lead a discussion alongside former GOP communications director Tara Setmayer on what motivates voters to go to the polls. Also in attendance will be former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Nick Troiano, the executive director for Unite America, a nonpartisan nonprofit that does work on bridging the political divide, told The Hill that all the speakers share a belief that American democracy is in peril. 

“The speakers come from across the political spectrum and have found common ground in the sense that we all are working to try and protect and improve our democracy,” Troiano said. “Without our shared democracy, none of the policy differences we have matter.” 

Grumet noted how increasingly difficult it has become for more moderate individuals to participate in the political process as most political activism tends to occur at each political parties’ edges. 

“The Un-Con was designed so that there is a place for politically active people who are alienated from the base politics and looking for a place to engage,” Grumet said. 

Troiano noted the event comes at what he called an “urgent moment.”

“A record high number of voters today believe our country is on the wrong track, and Democrats and Republicans view each other more negatively than ever before,” Troiano said.

Indeed, a recent Pew Research Center poll found 62 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats hold an unfavorable view towards the opposing party. 

“There’s nothing wrong with democracy today that democracy itself doesn’t give us the tools to fix,” Troiano said.

Tags Jordan Harris Michael Steele Nick Troiano
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