In this issue of Trust, we reflect on a challenging year and look forward to our 75th anniversary in 2023. Although the world has changed dramatically since 1948, our efforts to use data to make a difference continue to create both common ground and tangible progress.
One touchstone for us is encouraging an effective and responsive U.S. democracy. In the aftermath of World War II, our founders only had to look to a scarred and rebuilding Europe for a sign of how fragile democracy can be. And while America was then entering an era of postwar optimism that inspired their early investments, they knew that maintaining a strong democracy requires vigilance and constant effort.
In a healthy republic, government exists to serve the people. Their voices are heard, their votes counted, and their desires honored. As you’ll see in the following pages, the Pew Research Center continues to give voice to the public, illuminating issues, identifying trends, and helping policymakers understand the needs and opinions of an increasingly diverse citizenry.
Although national leaders can set the agenda by providing resources and forging consensus, the states are often the most effective laboratories of democracy, places for new ideas to meet newly developing—as well as the most stubborn—societal problems. Our efforts to help individuals and communities thrive include a range of partnerships at the state level that build new strategies to broaden access to credit, savings, and health services. Built on evidence, facts, and a lot of listening, new approaches are making government more responsive and effective.
As I look back on Pew’s activities last year, I’m struck by the fact that many of the challenges we’re addressing didn’t exist 75 years ago. As we grew from a local to an international organization, the health of the environment emerged as a critical concern.
The overfishing of our ocean, for example, was underway by the middle of the past century, but science didn’t recognize it—or the role of government subsidies that incentivized more aggressive fishing methods. But with Pew’s research helping lead the way, the World Trade Organization last year voted to end those subsidies—a win for local fishers around the globe.
With progress like this, I am optimistic that diverse perspectives, civil public debate, respectful dialogue, and thoughtful compromise can lead to positive change. I am grateful for your partnership as we celebrate the past, meet today’s challenges, and work toward a brighter future.
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