Participatory budgeting is perhaps the greatest experiment in democracy that could redefine how public budgets are decided in the United States. A “revolutionary civics in action” that came to the U.S. in 2009, this global phenomenon bridges a citizen-government divide in not only what public projects get funded, but who decides.
But for participatory budgeting to work, the health of American democracy is a must. According to Hollie Russon-Gilman's new book, Democracy Reinvented, current citizen disaffection and mistrust of government have stalled the best impacts of participatory budgeting and many other advances in civic innovation. The political and institutional restraints we work under now need to be opened up, and with the help of digital tools and other technological innovations, more inclusive governance is possible.