Editor's Note

William McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at the Bush Institute

As faith in the foundations of democracy falters, how can we rebuild that trust?

This edition of The Catalyst focuses on a topic that most Americans know all know too well: the declining trust in the institutions that form the backbone of a democracy. Whether those are cultural, political, religious, educational, or some other institution, data from reports like the Edelman Trust Barometer highlight the decline in trust in our some of our most essential democratic pillars. In the most recent Edelman survey, only business shows an increase in trust.


We could just stop and wallow in this troubling news in this edition, but we don’t. We also point out ways in which to rekindle faith in our foundational institutions as well as those of democracies abroad. One of my favorite examples is public theologian Russell Moore explaining in his interview how younger churchgoers are seeking to strengthen their churches by intentionally rejecting the politicization of their faith.


Along with Moore’s interview, you will find conversations with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the relationship between religious freedom and democratic stability, British Member of Parliament Nus Ghani on the need for democratic institutions to decry genocide and repression, and Stanford Law School Richard and Frances Mallery Professor Michael McConnell on the state of religious freedom in the United States.


A range of voices from the Bush Institute likewise address the issue of institutional trust. Our CEO, Ken Hersh, debunks critiques of the marketplace from left and right while explaining how smart economic policies can expand an ownership society. Anne Wicks, the Ann Kimball Johnson Director of the Education Reform Initiative at the Bush Institute, speaks to educators, policymakers, and parents alike about building trust in our public schools. And former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who now is the Bush Institute’s Sammons Enterprises Fellow, reminds leaders, particularly political leaders, of the importance of humility in their service.


They are among the other Bush Institute experts who seek in these pages to identify strategies to rebuild trust in pivotal institutions. After all, our democracy, as well as democracies around the world, are only as strong as the institutions that support them.


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