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Bulletin P

Abstract

The first thing any American says to a foreign visitor, wrote Charles Dickens in a wretched mood, is “what do you think of our institutions?” We are still a bit like that. Not so quaint, perhaps, as when Dickens knew us, but we still wear our institutions on our sleeves, and as with most things so familiar and so publicly displayed we seem to take them for granted. They mean as much to us as the impressive buildings that house the government offices but sometimes little more.

Now the purpose of this series of bulletins is not only to emphasize the present crisis in democracy, but also to stress the need, so pressing in these times, for us all to use the crisis of the moment to learn more about democracy, so that we may preserve and enrich our heritage. In this particular bulletin we are concerned with the part governmental institutions play in building and preserving democracy; and before we go on with it we shall have to show how and why this matter is important.

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