President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that “government is ourselves.” Throughout American democracy, however, far too many communities have been denied political power and have seen government power deployed against them. This reality has been made clear at the federal, state, and local levels through intensified anti-immigrant policies, attacks on reproductive care for women, a tax code that benefits the wealthy few, and suppression of Black and Native American votes.
By training the next generation of policymakers, researchers, and activists and supporting the implementation of their ideas, Roosevelt is changing who writes the rules. In doing so, we believe that we can help fulfill the ideals of American democracy, revive our economy, and build true public power.
The student ideas published in this journal tackle some of today’s most pressing issues with bold, local solutions that were built collaboratively with the communities and organizations directly impacted by the issues. This year’s 10 Ideas push for sustainable energy production in Michigan, the expansion of affordable housing access in North Carolina, the inclusion of refugee voices in Cincinnati’s government, and the confrontation of racism in the Detroit public school system. The students leading these projects recognize that to redefine the American economy and our democracy, policy solutions must be robust and inclusive, and, most importantly, put people and communities first.
I hope that after reading 10 Ideas 2019 you are inspired by the ideas that our students have for bringing the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt into the 21st century.