Ann Ravel wrote for CA FWD about how we can rebuild trust in our government institutions starting at the local level.
Whenever we open a newspaper or look on Twitter, we see how vulnerable we are to the undermining of our democratic institutions.
Over the past twenty years, citizens in the United States have become more cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, lesshopeful that anything they do might influence public policy and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives, according to a recent study by Harvard University.
This is a reflection of the reality that people’s trust in government, at both the Federal and local level, and their distaste for government officials, has been steadily declining and is now at an all-time low. Just one in five Americans is willing to trust the government to do the right thing "most of the time." This loss of confidence extends to all formal institutions in addition to government, including organized religion, public schools, banks, organized labor, big business and the media, as measured by Gallup since 1973.
Anger and polarization in our country has also seriously impacted our lives and our sense of community. It is not simply politicians, but the people themselves who are polarized, and growing even more so. An increasing proportion of Americans "dislike, even loathe" those who support a different party.
Lack of trust extends not just to institutions but to other people. This polarization affects where we live, the news and information we consume and who we like on Facebook, all of which isolates us from others.