Americans are under no illusions about the state of our democracy, the Democracy Monitor found. Most think it is either facing serious challenges or in crisis, including most Republicans. Only about a quarter of Americans think that our democracy will get better in the next few years.
Yet just as there is agreement across political affiliations about the troubled state of our democracy, the Democracy Monitor found agreement across political affiliations about the need to address some of the underlying challenges we face. These include making our political life more civil and respectful and our politics less dominated by extreme voices. Along with more people taking responsibility for what happens in their communities, creating these conditions for healthier public life may be necessary precursors to or catalysts for addressing our country’s more divisive problems.
Can it be done? The American people appear to believe change is possible. Despite their dismay about the state of our democracy, most Americans think people make a difference locally and half think they make a difference nationally—if enough get involved. Most Americans also feel a sense of responsibility to help find solutions to the problems facing communities and the nation. Finally, most are open to a variety of approaches to community problem solving, especially if they can contribute their skills and experiences, someone they respect invites them and public officials are there to listen.
In the coming years, the Democracy Monitor will track whether Americans’ views shift on several of the key questions posed here and will explore new ideas for democratic renewal in communities and the nation.