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What happens when Americans lose faith in institutions?

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An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice
An American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington on Friday, March 22, 2019.
Andrew Harnik | AP

Americans are losing faith in the federal government and each other. According to a recent poll from Pew Research, three-quarters of Americans have shrinking trust in the federal government and 64 percent report losing faith in their peers.

Those numbers are as striking as the headline of an article in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine titled “It’s the Institutions, Stupid: The Real Roots of America’s Political Crisis.”

In it, political scientist, Julia Azari argues that while many Americans feel like the country is in a state of disrepair, the situation is more accurately described as being in “partial repair.” 

Azari writes:

For all the talk of unresponsive politicians and apathetic voters, the democracy part of the U.S. political system may be in the best shape ever. Voter suppression remains a major problem, but other trends suggest health.

She goes on to cite increased participation in the midterms, higher turnout among young voters and the most diverse Congressional class ever. 

Azari joined MPR Host Kerri Miller on Monday for a conversation about potential solutions for easing political tension in the country.

GuestJulia Azari is a political science professor at Marquette University

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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