Ethan Zuckreman and Linda Chavez: American Institutions: Love Them or Leave Them?

American Institutions Postcard

Ethan Zukerman

American Institutions: Love Them or Leave Them?

Americans have lost faith not only in their governments but in business, healthcare, and the press. The dominant theme of civic life today is mistrust in our nation’s institutions, something increasingly felt on both sides of the aisle. When neither elections nor protests feel like paths to change, how can we best encourage participation in public life? As political polarization continues to permeate public discourse, Americans of all creeds must engage in good-faith efforts to address these societal ills.


In his new book, Mistrust: Why Losing Faith in Institutions Provides the Tools to Transform Them, Ethan Zuckerman, professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, provides a guidebook for those looking for new ways to participate in civic life. Linda Chavez, a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center and chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, joined Zuckerman on stage to discuss dealing with mistrust in our institutions and finding new paths forward.

Ethan Zuckerman is an associate professor of public policy, information, and communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and director of the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure. His research focuses on the use of media as a tool for social change, the use of new media technologies by activists, and alternative business and governance models for the internet. Ethan Zuckerman, in his new book, Mistrust: Why Losing Faith in Institutions Provides the Tools to Transform Them, introduces a set of “levers” – laws, markets, codes, and norms, that all provide ways to move the world forward. Mistrust is a guidebook for those aiming to find new ways to participate in civic life.

Linda Chavez is president of the Becoming American Initiative. She wrote a weekly syndicated column for three decades that appeared in newspapers across the country, is a contributor to the daily online publication The Bulwark, and participates weekly in The Bulwark’s podcast "Beg to Differ". National Review described Chavez’s memoir, An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal (Basic Books 2002), as a “brilliant, provocative, and moving book.”

Linda Chavez


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