“The world of politics and policy is immensely complicated, and knowledge of that world is veryunequally distributed. When knowledge is limited and unequal, middle-of-the-road voters have ahard time holding politicians accountable… If accountability has declined, it is not becausevoters were once highly knowledgeable and now are not. It is because the world of politics and policy has become less transparent and the role of intermediate organizations has declined. For this reason, the strengthening of encompassing groups that combine material resources, social networks, and reputations for trustworthiness can play a central role in restoring electoral control for ordinary voters. Encompassing organizations are vital for empowering the vast multitude of citizens who will never pay more than intermittent and limited attention to politics.”- Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson
During the first day of the 2005 annual meeting of the American Political ScienceAssociation (APSA) in Washington, D.C., a roundtable discussion was convened to address therecently published research of nineteen preeminent political scientists on the topic of civicengagement. These nineteen scholars had banded together under APSA’s nonpartisan“Committee on Civic Education and Engagement” to collectively write a book titled
Democracyat Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation and What We Can Do About It
.The book concludes that large numbers of Americans have turned away from political participation due to the failed engineering of our civic institutions and it calls for an agenda of reform to address what its authors perceive as an unfolding democratic crisis. The publication of
Democracy at Risk
and the subsequent attention that it received at the annual meeting of “theleading professional organization for the study of politics,”
illustrates broad consensus amongscholars that there has been a marked decline in American civic participation over the past fiftyyears – a phenomenon that, among other things, has muddied the role of citizenship.
(Hacker and Pierson 2005:217)