Chapter 1 Introduction

Maintaining trust and confidence in the government requires strong democratic processes and government institutions. Providing opportunities for full participation in the electoral process among people of all backgrounds, ages, and ability levels is critical. Eliminating or minimizing the impact of special interests on elections is also important. Further, all levels of government must adhere to policies that encourage and sustain integrity, along with the fullest possible participation by all American citizens. They must respond to citizens’ concerns, promote the public interest, and retain public confidence. 

However, trust in government is extremely low. The public believes the government is less responsive to its concerns than to those of special interests. Unlimited and often undisclosed campaign spending threatens to make this situation worse. Citizens continue to be frustrated by the government’s failure to address urgent societal problems. Increasing partisanship is causing greater levels of conflict. Crisis-driven decision-making often replaces finding long-term solutions to pressing problems. And legislative gridlock leaves important issues unaddressed. 

Equitable and inclusive civic engagement is also critical for all members of society. People of all backgrounds, including people who are discriminated against, need more opportunities to engage with one another and their elected officials. They need civic and volunteer opportunities to be able to make a difference in their communities. 

Found in Government Integrity and Civic Engagement