Chapter 1 Introduction


Democratic processes and government institutions must be trustworthy. This is essential to maintaining the confidence of the people. Citizens of a free and democratic nation have a vital stake in ensuring this. Government must adhere to policies that encourage and sustain integrity. It must respond to citizens’ concerns, promote the public interest, and retain public confidence.

But trust in government is extremely low. The public believes the government is less responsive to its concerns than to those of special interests. Citizens continue to be frustrated by the government’s failure to address urgent societal problems. Many things add to this dissatisfaction. 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. Unlimited and often undisclosed campaign spending threatens to make this situation worse.

This decline in public confidence threatens the health and vitality of our democracy. Reforms are crucial. Campaign financing must be revamped. Ethical standards need to be promoted and protected. Redistricting must be fair and representative. And voting systems need to be modernized. Older citizens, who have the highest voter participation rates of any age group, are particularly concerned. They want to make sure that public officials act on urgent health and financial security problems facing the nation.