A retrospective on civic life in Texas



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Civic life in its healthiest state is a dynamic, open, and reflective system that serves the needs of the public and improves the quality of life for all its members. A vibrant civic sphere helps citizens become less vulnerable to exploitation, hardship, harm, and allows everyday voices access to the powers that influence their lives.Yet most citizens today feel that the political arena has become too hostile, irrational, and polarized to expend their energy trying to affect it. Texas in particular is experiencing some of the lowest levels of civic engagement in the nation. The framework of this report holds on to both the notion that a healthy civic sphere is vital to the social fabric of our nation and to idea that citizens have legitimate reasons why they do not currently engage more in the process. These new dynamics in the landscape of political life warrant a moment of reflection which this retrospective seeks to offer. This paper uses Current Population Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau to explore whether we are we asking the right questions, if we have enough information, and outlines what the data we do have is telling us about civic life in Texas.