With the People: An Introduction to an Idea
Kettering Foundation Press
OverviewIn 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address, and he spoke of an ideal of government, one that is of, by, and for the people. Do Americans today think our government is really “of” the people? That's debatable. “By” the people? Doubtful. “For” the people? Perhaps for some, sometimes.
This Cousins Research Group Report, based on a forthcoming book by David Mathews, suggests trying another preposition—government with the people. It offers a strategy for bridging some of the divide separating the people of the United States from their government and from the country's major institutions. It envisions a form of collaboration that would have institutions working with citizens, not just for them. Such a “with strategy” sees people as creators and producers rather than consumers or clients. It encourages collaboration through mutually reinforcing efforts between the citizenry and the government, and that could have a cumulative effect on the troubles that our democracy faces.
About the Kettering Foundation
The Kettering Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is: What does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation. For more information about Kettering research and publications, see the Kettering Foundation’s website at www.kettering.org.