Things Only Citizens Can Do

In discussing his forthcoming new book, With: Another Way of Thinking about the Relationship between People and Governing Institutions, Kettering Foundation President and CEO David Mathews states that there are things that can only be done by citizens working with citizens: “Public institutions in a democracy can’t create their own legitimacy.  They can’t, on their own, define their purposes or set the standards by which they will operate.  And governing institutions can’t sustain over the long term decisions that citizens are unwilling to support.  Governments can build common highways but not common ground.  And none of the governing institutions—even the most powerful—can generate the public determination required to keep a community or country moving ahead on difficult problems…Only citizens have the local knowledge that comes from living in a place 365 days a year.  Because of this knowledge, people know how to do things that are different from what professionals can and should do.”

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