Civics Citizenship

Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen by Stephen Macedo

By Stephen Macedo

Voter turnout was once strangely excessive within the 2004 U.S. presidential election. at the beginning look, that point of participation—largely spurred through warfare in Iraq and a burgeoning tradition struggle at home—might appear like vindication of democracy. If the hot earlier is any indication, despite the fact that, too many american citizens will quickly go back to apathy and inactiveness. basically, all isn't really good in our civic existence. electorate are partaking in public affairs too sometimes, too unequally, and in too few venues to strengthen and maintain a powerful democracy. this significant new booklet explores the matter of America's lowering involvement in its personal affairs. D emocracy in danger reveals the risks of civic disengagement for the way forward for consultant democracy. The authors, all eminent students, adopt 3 major initiatives: documenting fresh traits in civic engagement, exploring the impact that the layout of political associations and public guidelines have had on these tendencies, and recommending steps that may elevate the volume and caliber of civic engagement in the USA. The authors concentration their consciousness on 3 key components: the electoral approach, together with elections and how humans get entangled; the influence of situation, together with demographic shifts and altering improvement styles; and the serious function of nonprofit organisations and voluntary institutions, together with the philanthropy that aid maintain them going.

This vital undertaking, at first backed via the yankee Political technology organization, assessments the proposition that social technological know-how has invaluable insights at the country of our democratic lifestyles. most significantly, it charts a direction for reinvigorating civic participation within the world's oldest democracy.

The authors: Stephen Macedo (Princeton University), Yvette Alex-Assensoh (Indiana University), Jeffrey M. Berry (Tufts), Michael Brintnall (American Political technological know-how Association), David E. Campbell (Notre Dame), Luis Ricardo Fraga (Stanford), Archon Fung (Harvard), William A. Galston (University of Maryland), Christopher F. Karpowitz (Princeton), Margaret Levi (University of Washington), Meira Levinson (Radcliffe Institute), Keena Lipsitz (California–Berkeley), Richard G. Niemi (University of Rochester), Robert D. Putnam (Harvard), Wendy M. Rahn (University of Minnesota), Keith Reeves (Swarthmore), Rob Reich (Stanford), Robert R. Rodgers (Princeton), Todd Swanstrom (Saint Louis University), and Katherine Cramer Walsh (University of Wisconsin).

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Structural: those that reflect the characteristics of America’s political system and institutions. ❚ Cultural: those that reflect the characteristics of American society and culture. We acknowledge that there are not necessarily bright lines between these categories, as some of the factors we discuss straddle more than one. Nonetheless, this tripartite division helps us to impose some structure on what could otherwise become a deluge of facts and figures. These factors interact with one another to influence patterns of civic engagement, and all can be influenced to some degree by the design of policies and institutions.

When we plot trends in political interest among seniors from 1976 to 2001, we see a startling change (figure 2-7). 22 No group is more aware of Americans’ declining interest in current events than the nation’s newspaper publishers. 23 Even during presidential election campaigns, fewer and fewer Americans are turning to newspapers for information about the race. In 1952, 79 percent of Americans reported that they read a newspaper during the presidential campaign, compared with only 57 percent in 2000.

Although there are significant limitations to political scientists’ understanding of why some people are actively engaged in civic life while others are not, sometimes we know enough not only to describe and diagnose but also to prescribe. In the chapters that follow, we clarify the nature and limits of what we know about our collective civic and political lives: we offer a portrait of important aspects of American citizenship, a diagnosis of our ills, and some prescriptions for improvement. We hope to clarify the vision of democratic reformers and to refocus the energies of political scientists.

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