By David Moore, Executive Director, Participatory Politics Foundation
Chris Hayes, in his book Twilight of the Elites, writes: “The most important social project we must undertake…is reconstructing our institutions so that we once again feel comfortable trusting them. Because without the social cohesion that trusted institutions provide, we cannot produce the level of consensus necessary to confront our greatest challenges.”
Unfortunately, in this effort, government reformers are starting from a serious crater. Gallup polling found that public approval of Congress hit a new low in August 2012—at 10 percent approval, Congress is less popular than the United States going communist. Distrust in media, meanwhile, is at an all-time high of 60 percent, per a Gallup study from this September. Voter turnout in our contemporary representative democracy (in national lower house elections) has averaged just 48 percent from 1960-1995, far behind other advanced democracies (for example, the United Kingdom at 76 percent). In 2008, 56.8 percent of our voting-age population went to the polls, less than India and Russia. The effects of disengagement and cynicism are widely recognized—we’re suffering from a massive deficit of public trust in the political process.