chapter  3
28 Pages

Power Politics and Open Government in the United States

The study of transparency’s place in American statecraft begins at home. Transparency is widely considered a public value in America, one that cuts across political ideologies and party affiliations and is embedded in the county’s political culture.1 Citizens and civic groups have long called for greater transparency in government. Politicians have also taken up this call, and public officials at all levels have put into place a variety of measures meant to ensure government is more open – and accountable – to the people. As advocates of public transparency themselves point out, however, government secrecy is also a public value, one that has an important place in a liberal democracy.For as much as the people value open government, the extent to which the government is under the watchful eye of the people is the product of a power struggle in the political life of the country, with some “pushing hard for greater secrecy” and others “pushing back equally hard for openness.”2