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Big Picture

The Mueller report is vital reading about our challenged democracy

On this momentous day for our country, we recommend you look elsewhere for the most important reading about our challenged democracy.

Consider it an obligation of good citizenship to digest all you can of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller. You can read it here. And for explanation and context there are plenty of credible news organizations to rely on – employers of legions of journalists who've already proven their worth with so much reportorial depth and analytical rigor.

The stunning impressiveness of Russian efforts to influence the last presidential election, and the extraordinary approaches Donald Trump has taken to the aftermath, are sure to make the history books because they say so much about the fragile state of democratic norms in our time.

And, to be sure, these stories touch on all these topics we are committed to covering:

• The pervasive role of big-money special interests in American politics
• The questionable reliability of our election mechanics
• The skepticism about whether our voting rules give everyone an equal say
• The consequences of politicians being able to pick their constituents, not the other way around
• The wobbly state of ethics in public life
• The fading primacy of facts, thanks to the spread of propaganda, in shaping our discourse
• The intensifying imbalance of power in favor of the executive and at the expense of Congress

But there is no unique reporting or analysis we can add at this moment. So it seems best for us to get out of the way while the significance of the Mueller report, released Thursday, starts to sink in.

The American political system was dysfunctional before the Trump administration and seems destined to remain so afterword. Our mission is to cover the efforts to make the system work better. We still have an enormous amount to write.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

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Congress
RepresentUs

RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.

Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez still discussing revolving door bill

Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?

To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."

The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.

The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.

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Adults of all ages agree: There's little confidence in elected leaders

But in general, young adults have a lot more trust issues than their elders

Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.

While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."

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