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These civic experiments are getting citizens more involved in governing themselves

Against the background of this year’s volatile presidential election, it has become commonplace to despair about the health of American democracy. A recent Pew survey found that trust in government remains at historic lows. Only 19 percent of Americans say they can trust the government always or most of the time, and 60 percent believe government needs “major reform.”

That same survey, though, shows that the public can better trust itself. A majority (55 percent) of those surveyed agreed that “ordinary Americans” would do a better job of solving national problems than elected officials. Is that sentiment another jab at government dysfunction or could it reflect an abiding faith in the wisdom and capacity of the general public?