Why Politics In America Is Failing... And What We Can Do About It

09/05/2016 09:06 pm ET Updated Sep 06, 2017

We've never had fewer service alumni in Congress in our nation's history. And our current Congress is among the least productive ever.

At the New Politics Leadership Academy, we believe that these two trends are connected. We are a non-partisan non-profit dedicated to recruiting and training more service program alumni to get involved in politics, either as candidates or as professional staff. We do this work because we understand that service alumni are proven leaders who have made the unusual choice to participate in long-term service experiences that challenged them to work at the front lines or the grassroots. Through service, they learned how to work on diverse teams; how to seek collaborative solutions; how to operate with both courage and humility; how to create real change through effective, pragmatic effort. In short, they are the leaders our country needs.

We know that the lack of servant leadership in our politics is not due to a lack of servant leaders in America. Across the country, there are literally millions of military veterans and alumni of civilian service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps hard at work serving their communities. These are America's servant leaders, and today only a small sliver of them decide to seek public office as a next step in their service journey. Perhaps it's because they operate with humility and focus on the needs of others, making it hard for them to imagine themselves in positions of political power. Perhaps they are turned off by today's toxic political culture. Or perhaps they've just never been asked. Whatever the reason is, here at the New Politics Leadership Academy we believe that we need more of these proven, experienced servant leaders as political decision-makers.

And we've got a plan to make it happen.

Today, the New Politics Leadership Academy is excited to announce the launch of a nationwide, non-partisan leadership development initiative called Answering the Call. The program is open to any national service alumni, and it will occur in multiple cities across the country in late October through mid-November 2016. It's not a traditional training, skill-building session, or motivational seminar. Answering the Call will invite participants to undertake a personal learning journey to determine whether or not they feel called to serve others through involvement in politics.

It's a model that we piloted in Boston with 28 participants this past February with great success: 100% of participants reported that it helped them achieve a new level of personal clarity about their interest in seeking public office, and nearly 70% said that they were likely to be a candidate for public office in the next five years. Participants can expect to connect with a group of fellow servant leaders grappling with important questions in a space that allows for meaningful reflection and dialogue. We understand and expect that some participants will decide they do not want to seek office. For those participants who do feel called to serve in this way, the New Politics Leadership Academy will be ready to provide additional levels of training and support as they begin their journey into the world of electoral politics.

We know, however, that the first step for anyone considering this journey is a clear, powerful, and deeply personal sense of calling. That's why we're starting with an invitation to grapple seriously with this simple yet profound question: Do I feel called?

We're recruiting both facilitators and participants for this program, and anyone interested in learning more about either can find a lot more information--and apply before midnight on Monday, October 10th--on the New Politics Leadership Academy website. This is the first step in scaling our program nationwide, and we are looking for individuals with a pioneering spirit who are willing to help us learn from this effort and improve the model for the future.

Are you an alumnus of a military or civilian service program? Have you ever contemplated the question of whether you feel personally called to enter politics as a next step in your own service journey? If so, consider yourself invited. We'd love to have you with us as a participant or a facilitator of Answering the Call!