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Politics and Government

  • Date Submitted: 02/24/2011 09:46 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 34.3 
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Bettertogether – Politics and Social Capital


The United States of America, the world’s oldest and most esteemed democracy, is experiencing serious and pervasive problems in its politics and government. For the last half-century, Americans have become more disgusted with elected officials, less trusting of political institutions, and increasingly indifferent toward democratic participation. This disaffection is particularly surprising given that the economy is booming, educational levels are high and rising, and the nation has enjoyed nearly uninterrupted peace for more than a quarter century. Despite the harmony and prosperity, levels of civic engagement and trust in government are at post-War lows. Voting, attending public meetings, writing letters to the editor, contacting elected representatives, paying attention to current affairs, working on campaigns, going to protests or rallies – all of these activities, upon which successful democracy depends, have dropped precipitously over the past two generations. Large numbers of citizens believe that politicians lie and pander to suit their own ambitions, that rich “special interests” get their way at the expense of everyday working families, that partisan elected officials refuse to work together or lead on important matters, and that government is too big and remote to solve problems. Meanwhile, serious discussion of the big issues – race relations, the gap between the rich and poor, the healthinsurance crisis, even declining civic participation itself – seems to have gotten lost in the cacophony of partisan sniping and interest-group alarmism. Whether wholly or only partly true, these perceptions are widespread, reflected in a decade’s worth of book titles from some of the nation’s leading political commentators – book titles such as Democracy’s Discontent, Demosclerosis, Why Americans Hate Politics, The End of Politics, Why Americans Don’t Vote, The Corruption of American Politics,...


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