Is Government Transparency Essential in a Democracy?

Is Government Transparency Essential in a Democracy?

Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Season 5, Episode 5

  • Feb 12, 2024 1:00 pm
  • 54:04 mins

Government transparency is a basic tenet of American democracy. But the US Constitution was drafted in total secrecy and the founders believed they couldn’t have done the job otherwise. When is openness best in a democracy, and when does the cost outweigh the benefit? In this podcast episode we hear the case for more openness from a citizen who used public records law to hold a state university accountable. A political historian explains how the founding fathers justified drafting the Constitution in secret and how that shaped the form of democracy the US has today. We also speak with elected legislators from three different states grappling with the best way to balance the financial and logistical challenges of making government records open to the public. The lawmakers also differ in how much of their own email and text communication should be open to the public. A political scientist who’s studied transparency in democracy describes how openness can empower special interest groups and make political gridlock worse. We discuss systemic solutions that could make government transparency work better for all Americans. Podcast Guests: Anne Mabry, citizen activist and retired professor of English at New Jersey City University Katlyn Carter, professor of history at Notre Dame, author of “Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy and Transparency in the Age of Revolutions” Washington State Representative Peter Abbarno Arizona State Senator John Kavanagh Arkansas Senate President Pro Tem Bart Hester Bruce Cain, professor of political science at Stanford University, author of “Democracy More or Less: America’s Political Reform Quandary”