Building civic capacity in an area of democratic crisis

Published by New America Authors: Hollie Russon Gilman & K. Sabeel Rahman


For several years now, the institutions of American democracy have been under increasing strain. Widening economic inequality, the persistence and increased virulence of racial and ethnic tensions, and the inability of existing political institutions to manage disputes and solve problems have all contributed to a growing sense of crisis in American democracy. This crisis of democracy extends well beyond immediate questions about elections, voting, and the exercise of political power in Washington. Our democratic challenges are deeper.

How do we develop institutions and organizations to enable civic engagement beyond voting every few years? What kinds of institutions, organizations, and practices are needed to make public policies inclusive, equitable, and responsive to the communities they are supposed to serve? How do we create a greater capacity for and commitment to investing in grassroots democracy? How can we do all this while building a multiracial and multiethnic society inclusive of all?