The Tea Party and MoveOn: Finding Common Ground?


Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 6:00pm to 7:00pm


John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA

thought bubblesA Challenges to Democracy Conversation with

Joan Blades, co-founder of,, and
Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance, Co-Founder and former National Coordinator, Tea Party Patriots
Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship (Moderator)

Co-sponsored with the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.

About the Event
There are some who argue that the gridlock and partisanship affecting Washington is simply a reflection of the polarizing discourse and growing divide within the American public. Can we engage in more civil conversations and find common ground between the political left and right in the U.S.? Two great American leaders representing the left and the right, Joan Blades, co-founder of and, and Mark Meckler, co-founder of Citizens for Self Governance and Tea Party Patriots, have come together to promote and encourage a safe format to build trust, appreciation for other views, and relationships.

Moderated by Archon Fung, the conversation between Blades and Meckler will cover the root problems of democratic dysfunction and possible paths forward on policy issues where there is potential for left-right common ground. Ultimately, how do you increase the capacity of the American democratic process and give people greater voice in our political system?

Read the Challenges to Democracy blog post about this event

Watch a Video Recording of the Event

View Photos from the Event

About the Speakers
Joan Blades is a co-founder of, an open source effort to rebuild respectful civil discourse across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our core-shared values. She is also a co-founder of – over a million moms and people who love them working together to make our country more family friendly and – millions of members working for Progressive change. She is a Great Work Cultures champion and co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When Where and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line, winner of a Nautilus book award in 2011, and The Motherhood Manifesto, which won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize in 2007. A mediator (attorney) by training and inclination, she is an entrepreneur (a co-founder of Berkeley Systems – best known for the flying toaster and the game You Don’t Know Jack), nature lover, artist, and true believer in the power of citizens and our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse while embracing our core shared values.

Mark Meckler is one of the nation’s most effective grassroots activists. After co-founding and serving as National Coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots (the largest tea party organization in the nation), he founded an organization designed to revolutionize American government by returning it to its founding principles: Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG). Founded in February 2012, this grassroots initiative is focused on expanding and assisting the non-partisan, self-governance movement. Mark appears regularly on wide variety of television and radio outlets, is the author of Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution, blogs at, and is a regular contributor at the American Spectator and Breitbart ( online.

Archon Fung is the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance. He focuses upon public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School. His books include Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency (Cambridge University Press, with Mary Graham and David Weil) and Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy (Princeton University Press). He has authored five books, four edited collections, and over fifty articles appearing in professional journals.

Suggested Readings
Forbes,’s Co-Founder Has The Tea Party’s Co-Founder Over For...Tea (Ralph Benko): “If the humanitarian populists of the left and of the right can find grounds to make principled common cause America may finally lift the siege that Washington levies upon us.”

Huffington Post, Reweaving the Fabric of our Society (Joan Blades): “While the traditional media loves fights, the new and emerging social media loves connections. We can leverage the wisdom and creativity of crowds to find win-win solutions to our common problems.”

Citizens for Self-Governance, Hanging out in Berkeley with my Friend, the Co-founder of (Mark Meckler): “There are many things that divide us politically, and when the time comes, we'll all still have our very partisan fights about those. But we can’t continue to buy into the overall politics of hate, perpetrated upon us by politicians and others in the ruling elite who find it quite profitable to keep us apart in order to maintain the status quo.”

National Journal, A Relationship or a One-Night Stand (Alex Seitz-Wald ): “A movement made up of the extremes of both parties will, by definition, have a hard time finding middle ground. There’s simply no reconciling populist liberals’ desire to expand the welfare state with populist libertarians’ demand to slash it. Unless they find more to agree upon, the populists of both parties will be stuck fighting from the same position, but facing opposite directions.”

San Francisco Gate, MoveOn founder, Tea Party figure meet (Joe Garofoli): “Too often, outfits like MoveOn and the Tea Party get so wrapped up in beating each other in the partisan, Twitter-driven politics of the moment that they don’t take time to see who is picking both of their pockets.”

[Book] Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution (Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin): “This book... is a call to arms for those who remember how great America once was to stop what they’re doing, pay attention, and join the movement that will ultimately restore America to its place as the greatest country the world has ever seen.”