For Democracy to Survive, it Requires Civic Engagement

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Photo: engagejoe / flickr
Media Outlet: Vox

Hollie Russon-Gilman wrote for Vox’s Polyarchy about why democracy requires civic engagement:

The relationship between citizens and government is changing. The first 10 days of Donald Trump’s presidency has been a reminder that citizens’ thirst to have a voice in their democracy spans the nation’s cultural, partisan, and ideological divides. In his inaugural address, Trump thundered, “We are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people.” The past two weekends have seen millions demonstrate in Women’s Marches and large crowds gather at airports and in downtowns to voice their discontent over Trump’s draconian executive order regarding immigration and refugee policies.
Beneath the acrimony, everyone seems to agree that citizens need a greater voice in our democracy. But both sides face a common challenge: Neither the marchers nor the president they detest have articulated a coherent set of mechanisms to translate their passionate rhetoric into concrete initiatives, programs, or policies that actually empower citizens.


Hollie Russon Gilman is a fellow at New America. She holds a PhD from Harvard's department of government and is the former White House Open Government and Innovation Advisor.