Innovation, creativity needed for democratic renewal

In scores of countries where democracy has sunk shallow roots, democratic development and the rule of law are threatened by a witches brew of corruption, bad governance, electoral fraud, illiberal populism, intolerance, political violence and intimidation, and the abuse of power by executives intent on hollowing out institutions of accountability and accumulating power and wealth for themselves and their cronies, according to the World Movement for Democracy (above).

Rebuilding democracy will require those involved into the decision-making process -“democratic professionals” – to create a culture that overcomes “civic lethargy,” argues Albert W. Dzur.

In the United States, however, the biggest factor blocking serious public administration reform is the country’s underlying anti-statist political culture, and America’s pathological distrust of government, argues Stanford University’s Francis Fukuyama. Because they tend to regard government more as a threat to their liberties than an executor of their wishes, Americans persistently fail to provide the government with adequate resources or authority to do its job properly, he writes for The American Interest:

This stands in sharp contrast to other wealthy liberal democracies in Europe and Asia, where the state receives far more trust as a protector of public interest than in the United States. Although distrust of government is particularly pronounced today on the Right, it is something shared by progressives as well. Because the government is starved of resources and authority, it fails to do its job properly. There are a legion of recent fiascoes, from the response to Hurricane Katrina to the Army 21 reforms to the rollout of , documented in great detail by scholars like Peter Schuck and Elaine Kamarck.

Because the public regards government as wasteful and ineffective, voters are reluctant to provide it with more resources or authority, locking us into a low-level equilibrium of bad outcomes, adds Fukuyama, a National Endowment for Democracy board member. RTWT

The U.S. is experiencing a revival of participatory democracy, evident in a new surge of active citizenship, according to the latest Pew Research poll (right), The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin adds.

Solutions Journalism Network will award 100 grants through 2020 to newsrooms to support stories, projects and collaborations that examine how people, communities and institutions are responding to problems at the center of democracy.