Trust, Empathy and civic engagement on the part of citizens and their leaders are vital for the realization of the expected democracy in any given country. It is through democracy that most of the developments in economic, social and political aspects are realized (Volgy, 05). This notwithstanding, trust, empathy, and civic engagement have been in decline in the United States in recent years. This decline is attributed to several factors such as the inequitable development among others. The decline poses a threat to the democracy of the country in several ways. This situation can be changed through implementation of a range of policies. The causes, effects on the democracy and the probable cause of actions to address the situation can be discussed in details as presented in the ensuing discussion.
Causes of the Decline
The first cause of the decline in the three elements is inequitable development (Volgy, 15). In United States, only less than 10% of people who control the wealth of the country (Qvortrup, 213). This situation creates a distrust in the current government for the failure of developing polices that ensure equity. Without these policies, many people languish in poverty and are denied access to equal opportunities to jobs and education. The opportunities are only available to the high ranked politician and wealthy few.
The second cause is inadequate success in warranting full democratic rights to the citizens (Volgy, 16). When democratic leaders come to ask citizens for their votes, they make a lot of promises. After the politicians assume their seats, they forget about the promises they made. They thus serve for their period and make no changes to facilitate the success of democratic rights as per their promises. This situation leads to a decline in the above aspects on the part of the citizens.
The third cause is a lack of transparency in public governance (Volgy, 16). Public governance is full of dirty politics and hidden motives. These motives are perpetuated by the political leaders whom citizens elect to serve them. Corruptions become eminent, and the opportunities that are warranted to every citizen are allotted to a few individual in a covert manner. This situation exacerbates the anger of citizens resulting to a decline in trust, empathy and civic engagement.
The fourth cause of the decline is unaccountability of leaders (Qvortrup, 213). When citizens elect their leaders to lead, they expect them to be accountable for every action they undertake. This situation turns out to be the opposite when these leaders assume offices. Whenever something goes wrong in their area of jurisdiction, they engage in a blame game. Most of these blame games results to a pronounced loss of public finances. Citizens continually elect new leaders in the hope of realizing the accountability (Volgy, 15). They end up being disappointed more than their expectations. This disappointment leads to decline in trust, empathy and civil engagement.
The fifth cause of this decline is as a result of poor service delivery. The delivery of services such as the health services, judicial services among other services is very poor. The situation is opposite of what the citizens would expect their democratic government to provide for them. Such as the case ends up that the majority of the citizens who belong to either lower or middle classes are the ones adversely affected (Volgy, 28). The high class can obtain good services from private sectors. This situation leads to declined trust, empathy and civic engagement on the part of the citizens.
Implications of these Declining Trends
The first implication of the declining trend is neglect of fairness and justice. If the citizens lack trust in the governance and decide to have no civic engagements, the leaders will take advantage of the reluctance. They will thus use the justice system to perpetuate their gains and perpetuate unfairness on the ordinary citizens (Qvortrup, 214). Similarly, the good leaders who try to advocate the citizens but receive no civic engagement end up losing their lives. Example of such leaders includes the murder of Martin Luther and President J.F Kennedy. This situation is an example of how unfair and injustice the country can become.
The second implication is the one-sidedness of the public policies (Qvortrup, 213). Through civic engagements, citizens get to give their opinion on how a policy should be like. In the absence of civic education, political leaders would make laws that only serves them best. This one sidedness of the law would contribute to unfair treatment of the citizens. This situation undermines the voting and other rights of the citizens.
The third implication is the increase in insecurity issues. Through civic engagement, citizens can get the leaders to be empathetic. The leaders are thus lured into passing stringent laws that ensure the security of the citizens (Volgy, 32). In the absence of these stringent measures, the country becomes prone to susceptible attacks. For this reason, citizens are a major contributor to the making of laws that ensure their safety.
There are several solutions available in solving the crisis above. The first solution is the implementation of the relevant institutional frameworks (Volgy, 34). With institutional frameworks that have the acceptance of the citizens in place, their trust, empathy, and civic engagement would be won easily. The second solution is the involvement of multi-stakeholders in developing the appropriate policies (Volgy, 41). This action will ensure that whatever the policies are developed, they serve the best interest of all the individuals in the country. This way, the crisis will be solved significantly to prevent its effects.
The third solution is the arousing of public advocacy programs and activism through use of media (Volgy, 25). If activism and public advocacy can be achieved through the use of media, the government will be compelled to action. Ones the government gets in action to solve the problems that the ordinary citizens are suffering form, the crisis will be reduced. The fourth solution is assurance of transparency in public governance (Qvortrup, 213). This can be achieved through the use of media to call for participation of civil societies. These civil societies will advocate transparent public governance, a situation that will contribute to the reduction of the crisis.
In conclusion, decline of empathy, trust and civic engagement leads to crisis. Some causes of the crisis are; inequitable development, unaccountability, lack of transparency among other causes. The crisis has several implications such; inadequate justice and fairness, limitation of rights, and increased insecurity. This notwithstanding there are some solutions such as; implementation of relevant institutional frameworks, arousing public advocacy and involvement of multi-stakeholders in formulating policies.
Qvortrup, Matt. ‘Attention Deficit Democracy: The Paradox of Civil Engagement’. Acta Politica 47.2 (2012): 213-214. Web.
Volgy, Thomas J. Politics in the Trenches. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001. Print.