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How Can Citizens Participate In Government

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The Expansion Of Citizen Participation

Campaign finance | Political participation | US government and civics | Khan Academy

The Participation Gap primarily examines evidence from the International Social Survey Program that measured citizen participation in established democracies in 2004 and 2014. The decline in voting turnout is obvious and a very troubling trend. However, the good news is that democratic institutional reforms and citizen innovation have increased the number and variety of access points that people can use to influence political outcomes. The expansion in citizen skills and resources also enables more people to engage in these more demanding forms of participation. Direct contact with political leaders has increased. More people are joining public interest groups, civic associations, Bürgerinitiativen, and other collective forms of action. People have developed new methods of political action, such as political consumerism, new forms of contentious action and creative activism. The internet enables new methods of peer-to-peer involvement among citizens who share political views and want to be active. The ISSP surveys thus describe an interested and involved citizenry, more engaged than their parents or grandparents generation. Many of these activities also offer greater policy content and policy focus than the simple act of voting.

The Policy Circle Civic Engagement And You

The Policy Circle began as a group of women looking for a way to connect with others to talk about policy and its impact on their families, communities and the country. If laws provide the framework for governing a society, policies are the guiding principles behind those laws and these women sought a better understanding of policy and how they could become more engaged in the civic process. So how does The Policy Circle do that?


The Policy Circle emphasizes the value of conversation, and by focusing on policy rather than politics, cultivates civil conversation rather than contentious partisan debate.

The Policy Circles model of the roundtable discussion allows women to learn from each other and consider members varying perspectives and experiences in policy matters. It also builds womens confidence by creating a safe and welcoming environment for each member to share and make her voice heard, whether she is a stay at home mom, a full-time professional, introverted or extroverted, well-versed in policy or new to the issues.

, musician and host of the podcast The Conversation Hub, says in an interview on the power of conversation, Through conversationrelationships are formed through conversationknowledge is shared and, through conversationlife happens and finds meaning.

Conversation is the arena where women find and strengthen their voices.


Outside Connections

The Effect

Is Participation In The Political Process Encouraged In The Us

Government based upon the consent of the people presupposes citizen participation in the political process. One of the hallmarks of this participation is voting in elections. In fact, voting is clearly a necessary conditionthat is, you cannot have a representative republic without voting. However, voting in itself is not sufficient for a government to be called a representative republic or representative democracy. Totalitarian governments frequently allow citizens to vote but without real and meaningful participation in governing. For example, without real opportunity for citizens to express their opinions in an open environment or to join a political party or an organization that opposes the government leaders in power, votes have no impact on the direction of governmental policy. That is to say, voting must be coupled with civil rights and protected liberties that permit meaningful participation through a broad range of opportunities.

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Remember 1776 And Consider 76 Ways To Stay Civically Engaged

While by no means comprehensive, the Democracy 76 list below provides specific and practical actions that we all can take to be an involved citizen. The list is broken into five actions that are essential components for engagement. It is expressly free from politics and partisanship and should be undertaken by all Americansregardless of political perspectives or affiliation.

The list was generated drawing on the National Conference on Citizenships Civic Health Index and on a wide range of input from individuals dedicated to fostering improved civic engagement, including colleagues from the American Enterprise Institute, Arizona State University, CivXNow, Education International, DigCitCommit, Facing History and Ourselves, National Conference on Citizenship, National Council for the Social Studies, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and University of Virginias Center for Politics. While we are grateful for everyones rich contributions, the list is ours and any mistakes within it are ours alone.

Finally, this list has contributed to the call to action of the newly launched Purple Project for Democracy, which has as its central mission to create a more active, engaged American citizenry, ultimately strengthening the very foundations of our democratic form of government. This is certainly something the founding fathers would support.

How To Participate In Politics

Citizen participation

Illustrations by George Wylesol

When it comes to politics, Americans have become pretty pessimistic. People dont trust the political parties. Voter turnout is mediocre. Cynicism and polarization are rampant. But this pessimism belies a truth: Individual Americans have more political power than they realize.

From the Tea Party on the right to the Trump resistance on the left, citizen activism has helped change American politics in recent years. If politics is a conversation, every American has a voice. Heres how you can use yours more effectively.

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Invite And Capture Conversations

A recent Pew Internet Poll found that 31 percent of American smartphone users have visited visit a local, state, or federal government website. Citizens are talking about local government across social media channels and other online media, regardless of whether or not your organization is participating. Its simple to engage with citizens in online communities:

  • Sign up for an account on major social media sites and join the conversation.
  • Encourage citizens to send you messages, and then respond to their suggestions.
  • When possible, ask citizens questions and use their input in upcoming decisions.

For those citizens who might not be interested tweeting your organization or commenting on your website on a regular basis, you can still engage them in crowdsourced information gathering. For example, the City of Boston developed an app called Street Bump that uses GPS and gyroscope readings to identify potholes during citizens commutes.

Ways In Which Citizens Can Influence Government Decision

From protests and pressure groups, to joining a political party, there are many ways that citizens can influence government policy

Apart from voting in elections, individuals can become involved in political parties by:

  • joining
  • making a donation
  • campaigning in elections including handing out leaflets and putting up posters

Political parties are usually more successful if they have large, active memberships and can attract donations from supporters and party members.

Anyone can join a political party. The membership fees for the main political parties are quite low in order to attract as many people as possible. At election time there are rules about the amount of money parties can spend.

Political parties invested heavily in their websites and social media, to improve their communication with voters and supporters. The SNP have used social media particularly effectively to support their election campaigns in 2015 and 2016.

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The Bucket List For Involved Citizens: 76 Things You Can Do To Boost Civic Engagement

The year 1776 was an auspicious year for democracy. The idea that a people could govern themselves was radical at the time. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that followed are for most Americans revered documents and a cornerstone of our democracy. Over the years, this idea of democratic republicanism has become central to American identity, and yet without citizen participation, the government of, by, and for the people will not last. Ben Franklin famously said, A republic, if you can keep it, when asked what form of government the founders had created. He was charging we the people with the responsibility of protecting self-government.

Relevant Policies And Guidelines

How government can serve citizens in our connected world

The Policy Statement and Guidelines is a key element to ensure the realization of the objective established in the Department of Justice Strategic Plan 2001-2005. In addition, the Policy Statement supplements the Treasury Board Secretariat’s policies on consultation and engagement and:

  • Policies and guidelines applicable to the legislative and regulatory development process

  • Relevant federal Acts and Statutes such as the Access to Information Act, Official Languages Act and the Privacy Act

  • the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Government Communications PolicyFootnote 5 and the Client Consultation PolicyFootnote 6

  • other current or future Acts, Statutes, policies, guidelines or directives of application to the Department or the whole of the federal government.

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Learn Your States Voting Laws

What do you need to do to register? Can you vote early or by mail? Do you need to be registered with a political party to vote in a primary election? What identification will you need at a polling place?

You dont want to be dealing with these issues in the final days before an election and run into a problem that you cant solve in time. The Fair Elections Center offers an annually updated guide to each states voting laws. A quick Google search should turn up the website for your states secretary of state, who often serves as the chief election official. These websites include information on election dates, absentee voting and other issues.

Importance Of Citizens Participation In Governance

I believe that a countrys future lies in its strength of ability to let the decision of its own economic, political and social precedence bloom with a direction from the Government, in partnership with and a non-negotiable accountability to the people who live in the country.

In this way, good governance brings the enlightened purposefulness of the people into governments process of reaching a decision. Good governance is seeded on the standard assumption of constructing secure, fertile and sound communities while pocketing three most important factors that contributes in its production

  • Inclusive and accountable decision-making.
  • Equitable civic participation and voice.
  • Effective public service delivery and government responsibility.
  • While these may give birth to the possibility of a chaotic handle leading to a confusing order, given the acquaintance to restrictions, yet it promises to deliver a response to not only the present but the future needs of society. Principles of good governance have always been based upon the certainty that corruption must be abstracted, the views of minorities should be taken into account and that the voices of the most susceptible in society are heard in a unanimous decision-making.

    The key is to remember that a Governments primary duty is to protect its people instead of designing their lives along unbroken lines. Because will of the people is the source to legitimate happiness of all.

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    How To Run For Office

    Running for a political office or persuading others to is the surest way to give your political beliefs a seat at the table.

    Politics is nothing magical: Its people making decisions on behalf of other people, says Amanda Litman, the co-founder of Run for Something, a progressive group. If you want better policy, change the people who are making the decisions.

    Whether youre conservative, liberal or somewhere in the middle, heres how to make it happen.

    Easy And Difficult Activities

    Citizen participation

    Participation depends on the ease or difficulty of the action. During election campaigns, about one in five Canadians try to persuade a friend to vote for a particular party or individual, according to Canadian Election Study surveys. But only about one in six attend a rally or meeting or display a lawn sign or bumper sticker. Only about one in 20 Canadians canvass door-to-door help to mail campaign literature make campaign-related telephone calls or act as election-day drivers or scrutineers for political parties. About the same percentage claim to have given money to a party or a candidate or belong to a party. Fewer still run for office.

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    Dont Forget Your Local Representatives

    On local issues, consider lobbying your state legislator. The people in these legislatures in the states, they actually care about what their constituents think, says Mark Meckler, a co-founder and former national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, an influential conservative organization. You actually have influence. Thats how our system was designed.

    Putting Conversations To Work

    To follow in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers of our country and others who came before us, here are some ways weve found we can start to walk the talk and add value as a citizen:

  • Brush up on American Citizenship yourself, and introduce civics to young people in your life that you mentor.
  • Engage in initiatives that teach civics in your local schools, high-school, community colleges, or initiate a project such as a Citizen Academy with your city. Here are some civic engagement projects making an impact.
  • Participate in Voter Registration initiatives, and visit to find out what will be on your ballot in the upcoming election.
  • Consider becoming an Election Judge
  • Find out what are the public policy research centers in your state by visiting SPNs directory by state and by issue.
  • Put Conversations to Work and Engage Locally see the following proposed steps to engage further.
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    Integrate Citizen Feedback Into All Processes

    Integrating citizen feedback into as many processes as possible is crucial. As your internal team gathers information and sets the scope of different projects, you can use this newly captured citizen feedback to drive a number of decisions including:

    • Include public insight in your documentation.
    • Designate someone to share citizen ideas in meetings.
    • When you encounter a hurdle, throw a question out to the crowd.

    Traditionally, hacking got a bad rap, as it used to relate to cybersecurity. However, hacking has now become a term that speaks to capturing knowledge, as demonstrated by recent government hackathons. Hacking into the knowledge base of your citizens can result in innovation. For instance, at a recent hackathon in Hawaii, citizens came up with the idea of Honolulu Answersan online robust Q& A website that solves the issue of quickly responding to common citizen questions about government services and information.

    Public Participation With The Solicitor General Footnote 13

    Government gets in the way of people participating in economy: CATOs Michael Tanner

    The Department of Justice has at different times been involved in the public participation activities of most federal departments and agencies. It is, however, with the Department of the Solicitor General that these activities have mostly been undertaken. As a result of their respective mandates the two departments share many of the issues of interest. For this reason, it is expeditious to work in partnership to develop a policy to engage Canadians so that duplication and overlap is avoided and to ensure the best use of resources.

    The Department of the Solicitor General is responsible for protecting Canadians and helping to maintain Canada as a peaceful and safe society. The Department’s role encompasses policing and law enforcement, national security, corrections and conditional release.

    In all public participation exercises jointly conducted with the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada, Justice Canada will ensure that adherence to the basic principles of commitment, clarity, trust, inclusiveness, accessibility, mutual respect, responsibility, accountability and co-operation are maintained.

    When the Department of Justice engages in joint exercises with the Department of the Solicitor General, the conflicting departmental positions on policy will be made clear to participants to enable them to make informed decisions. The aim of the process will not be to choose one course of action over another, but to simply find common ground and suggest a workable solution.

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    But If You Want To Help Grow A Third Party You Can

    Its possible, of course, that a third party will one day rise. In the 19th century, the Republican Party replaced the Whig Party. More recently, the 2016 election saw a significant jump in Green and Libertarian party candidates share of the popular vote, and61 percent of Americans say neither the Democratic nor Republican Party represents their views. And even if the Democrats and Republicans remain dominant, a rising third party could push the parties in new directions.

    If you want to grow a third party, the political scientist Lee Drutman says the first steps should be lowering the barriers that make it difficult for third party candidates to compete. Push your state to adopt ranked-choice voting, a system that would remove the spoiler effect of a third-party vote. This system lets you name a first-choice candidate but transfers your ultimate vote to an alternative candidate if your first choice receives only a small share of the vote. Or lobby your state to adopt proportional representation, which would award seats in legislatures based on a partys overall vote share, instead of todays winner-take-all system.

    Government Support For Citizen Participation

    The government can support citizen participation in various ways, for instance by abolishing unnecessary rules and regulations wherever possible. Like the complex application procedures volunteers sometimes have to contend with to obtain funding for their activities.

    The government supports citizen participation through a variety of forums and organisations, such as:

    • ProDemos, an organisation that promotes democracy and the rule of law. ProDemos wants to get more members of the public involved in issues like democracy, society and politics.
    • The Movisie national knowledge institute, which aims to create a society of self-reliant citizens.

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    Restricted Suffrage And Plural Voting

    In an analogy comparing the perils of an unlicensed driver to an untested voter, Brennan argues that exams should be administered to all citizens to determine if they are competent to participate. Under this system, citizens either have one or zero votes, depending on their test performance. Brennan also proposes a plural voting regime in which each citizen has by default one vote but can earn additional votes through passing voter entrance exams or possessing academic degrees. Critics of Brennan, including Vox reporter Sean Illing, find parallels between his proposed system and the literacy tests of the Jim Crow South that prevented black people from voting in the United States.

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