Keep Our Republic, a non-partisan group organized in 2020 to protect election laws and strengthen the power of checks and balances in the electoral system, hosted a conversation called “Our Fragile Republic — Sounding the Alarm in Defense of Democracy,” where they discussed their upcoming plans in the Stern Great Room.
The event, held on April 3, included former Governor Tom Corbett (R-Pa.), who chairs Keep Our Republic’s Pennsylvania advisory council, along with advisory council member Velma Redmond and Keep Our Republic executive director Ari Mittleman. The panel also included Dickinson President John E. Jones III, who is also an advisory council member, and Sarah Niebler, Associate Professor of Political Science. Former United States Representative Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) also joined the group via Zoom.
Much of Corbett’s address involved how to tone down hateful and violent political rhetoric that has increased in the past 10 to 15 years. Corbett attributed it to “this,” he said as he pulled out his cellphone. “It’s communication,” which Corbett said everyone can get. He said social media has “changed the dynamic” for political and civic education as anyone can go online and spread misinformation.
To counter potential lies pushed about the 2024 election, Keep Our Republic plans to organize campaigns with people in their local communities driving “hyper-localized, bipartisan” efforts for civic education, according to Corbett. He went on to say that having these discussions “at the coffee shop, at the VFW, at the county fairs, between now and Election Day 2024 — that’s our goal.”
The Pennsylvania advisory council, which was announced during the event, includes lawyers, academics, activists, former judges and former politicians from across the commonwealth and both sides of the political aisle. The group also intends to announce councils for Wisconsin and Michigan.
While the national advisory council includes members from other swing states such as Arizona and Georgia, Mittleman said “there’s an ethos” between the three states they have chosen to launch statewide efforts in, as they have similar concerns and opportunities. Mittleman also feels that there is a “brush fire in the body politic” and that “God forbid, but I think a few sparks could create a five-alarm fire,” and it is particularly hot in certain parts of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Along with President Jones being on Keep Our Republic’s advisory council, Professor Niebler also intends to bring the group’s effort closer to Dickinson. She plans to organize research over the summer with a student worker to “collect and analyze information related to election integrity in Pennsylvania.” This will include research on the state and county levels including electronic poll books, payment for poll workers and mail-in ballot request numbers, among other topics.
More information on Keep Our Republic can be found at their website, keepourrepublic.com, which also includes the full makeup of the Pennsylvania advisory council.