Originally posted on Forbes on January 23, 2018.
The government was closed for business this weekend. It is, thus, hardly any surprise that the American public lacks trust in its legislature. Just eight percent of people say they have a great deal of confidence in the institution, according to a recent poll. A late-night government shutdown, the inability to agree on immigration reform, bitter partisan wrangling over healthcare and tax policy, and the lowest levels of productivityin history, and it is no wonder that rates of trust in government and in Congress, in particular, are at an all-time low.
The way Congress makes law is simply no longer viable. In David Schoenbrod’s recent book DC Confidential, he outlines “five tricks” politicians use to take credit in front of television cameras in order to further political party agendas while passing the blame and the buck to future generations for bad legislation. Although Congress makes the laws that govern all Americans, people also feel disenfranchised. One studyconcludes that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” But technology offers the promise of improving both the quality and accountability of lawmaking by opening up the process to more and more diverse expertise and input from the public at every stage of the legislative process. We call such open and participatory lawmaking: “CrowdLaw.”
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