"MacArthur hopes to make a contribution to a more responsive and effective government in this country and in doing so, to improve the life chances of Americans, strengthen U.S. global credibility, and build a future worthy of America’s promise."  —ROBERT L. GALLUCCI, PRESIDENT

Contributing to a Stronger American Democracy

Essay by Robert L. Gallucci, MacArthur Foundation President

America is in trouble. We face serious, large-scale problems: the nation’s fiscal future, energy policy, climate change, the education of our children, economic competiveness, immigration, and more. And yet our political system appears to be unable to address them in a timely or effective way. Elections, even presidential elections, do not appear to be potent enough to alter this intractable situation.

Can a foundation make a meaningful contribution to strengthening American democracy?

MacArthur does not advocate for political positions, beyond a strong support for democratic norms. Nor have we typically addressed America’s political system. Our bias has been toward well-informed, evidence-based public policy that, in our view, promotes the general good.

But in recent years, we have felt the need to think more deeply about how our democracy is working and the complex relationship between policy and politics.

In this essay I will share some of our thinking and the work we have supported as a result.