CSDP Announces Launch of New Research and Policy Initiative: Congress and US Political Institutions in an Age of Mistrust

Tuesday, Dec 11, 2018

The Center for the Study of Democratic Politics is pleased to announce the launch of a new two-year research and policy initiative to address the timely, and challenging, issue of “Congress and US Political Institutions in an Age of Mistrust.”

Charles Cameron, Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Brandice Canes-Wrone, Donald E. Stokes Professor of Public and International Affairs and Professor of Politics, and Jonathan Kastellec, Associate Professor of Politics, will lead this project. Other CSDP faculty associates, including Keith Whittington, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, and Julian Zelizer, Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs, will join them on components of the overall project.

Over the past decades, the US Congress and other national political institutions have experienced multiple dramatic developments. Public trust in the federal government has eroded. Members of Congress have spent less time on lawmaking and more time on fundraising. Correspondingly, members have increasingly delegated details of policymaking to the executive branch, and the executive has been all too willing to fill the void. The national parties have become more polarized and have less willing to compromise. Likewise, judicial nominations and other appointments have taken on an increasingly partisan and polarized tone. Together, these trends have produced an institutional dynamic in crisis.

This research and policy initiative will provide insight into the causes and consequences of these developments and recommend reforms. What is the appropriate balance of power among the national institutions?  Are there policy and institutional reforms that could strengthen the functioning of Congress?  How can public trust in our national institutions best be restored? This initiative will research these questions to produce scholarship, media communications, conferences, student events, and other outputs with the goal of influencing policy and public discussion related to the functioning of national US institutions.

The Center for the Study of Democratic Politics (CSDP) was created in 1999 as a research program within the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. The Center supports research and educational programming on democratic political institutions and behavior. A major aim of the Center is to encourage rigorous social scientific analysis that informs our understanding of the public policy process, elections, and policy decisions.

For more information, contact csdp@princeton.edu