Public distrust erodes the efficiency and productivity of our economy, government, and society. It accelerates and amplifies weaknesses in our democratic political infrastructure alongside business relationships and social interactions in mutually reinforcing ways. Determining how to cultivate public trust depends on definitions of “the public”: to whom the government and its officials are accountable. Given the history of the United States as a White settler colonial state, its dependence on African chattel slavery, and its continuing racist xenophobia, “the public” is a frustratingly elastic term. For marginalized populations, public trust might vary in intensity over the past centuries since the nation's founding. In analyses and assessments of levels of trust in the strength or fragility of public institutions, Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”) have often been excluded from the polls and surveys upon which public opinion or sentiment is based. A lack of public trust in government significantly impacts determinations of constitutional rot and renewal; however, in the absence of BIPOC responses and inclusion in “the public” over the centuries of U.S. history, constitutional rot for marginalized populations has been an ongoing emergency in their continual lack of or restricted access to constitutional rights and protections. This perpetual constitutional rot is far from an unusual condition.

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