Many observers and scholars of politics would argue that as a whole, American citizens lack some basic knowledge that is often needed to manage a democracy. In June of 2016, Forbes found that only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of our federal government (executive, judicial, and legislative). This is a major issue at election time, as a recent University of Pennsylvania study reveals that most Americans do not know which party controls the House and the Senate. There seems to be a fundamental knowledge gap when it comes to politics in the United States, especially regarding Congress.
An informed electorate is imperative to a functioning democracy; but we understand that the political process can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are high-quality tools available to educate engaged voters. At the Center for Effective Lawmaking, we calculate legislative effectiveness scores for members of Congress. The scores provide information to voters about which legislators are best at moving their bills through the lawmaking process. These scores are available for download under the Find Legislators tab. In addition to the Center for Effective Lawmaking, many other similar “good governance” organizations, are seeking to bridge this knowledge gap among voters.
- The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Healthy Congress Index makes recommendations to Congress based on various aspects of the legislative process. This tool is exceptionally convenient for anyone, from policy aficionados to the everyday voter, to access on a regular basis.
- The Congressional Management Foundation serves as an intermediary between Congress and constituents. The Foundation augments Congressional efficacy through research-driven training for members of Congress, political advocates, and voters.
- BallotReady simplifies the ballot for voters. The organization compiles comprehensive data on the agendas of candidates, and proposed referendums, eventually publishing the results in a practical and handy ballot report for the voter.
- The R Street Blog is a nonpartisan policy research hub. The blog authors cater to anyone who is looking for a simple explanation of relatively complicated political matters. The R Street Blog publishes on topics ranging from college football to the Federal Reserve.