Press release

Civic Power: Rebuilding American Democracy in an Era of Crisis

Drawing on historical and social science research, as well as case studies of contemporary democratic innovations across the country, Civic Power calls for a broader approach to democratic reform, offering a critical framework and concrete suggestions to support those reforms that meaningfully redistribute power to citizens.

American democracy is in crisis. In their new book, Civic Power, political scientists K. Sabeel Rahman and Hollie Russon Gilman argue that the daily political turmoil of the Trump era actually masks a larger ailment.  The current threat to U.S. democracy is rooted not just in the outcome of one election or the ascent of one leader, but in deeper systemic forms of inequality that concentrate political and economic power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. 

Drawing on historical and social science research, as well as case studies of contemporary democratic innovations across the country, Civic Power calls for a broader approach to democratic reform, offering a critical framework and concrete suggestions to support those reforms that meaningfully redistribute power to citizens.

This original, timely effort offering fresh thinking about how best to pursue civic engagement and democracy reform. It offers concrete suggests to revive grassroots civil society and calls for novel approaches to governance, policymaking, civic technology, and institutional design.  With these tools, readers can aim to address structural disparities to build a more inclusive, empowered, bottom-up democracy where communities and people have greater agency, voice, and civic power.    

About the Authors
K. Sabeel Rahman is the President of Demos, a think-and-do tank committed to building a more inclusive and equitable democracy and economy. He is also an Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, where he teaches constitutional law and administrative law. Rahman is a leading scholar of democracy, law, and inequality, and is the author of Democracy against Domination (2016), which won the American Political Science Association's Dahl Award.

Hollie Russon Gilman teaches at Columbia University and is a Fellow at New America’s Political Reform Program and Georgetown's Beeck Center. Her work focuses on the intersection of civic engagement, technology, and governance. She is the author of Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America (2016). She served in the Obama Administration in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.