Hello Deliberative Democracy Pals—

I hope you all are enjoying the same kind of delicious fall we are here in the Pacific Northwest (except for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere. . . in your case, I hope it is an equally delicious spring).

Interesting Reading
Here is some more reporting on James Fishkin’s deliberative polling work in South Korea around issues involving nuclear power. (Interestingly, here is an op-ed from the English-language version of the South Korean daily questioning deliberation as a basis for complex, technical decisions.)

The Canberra (Australia) citizen’s jury convened on the question of mandatory third-party auto insurance is a thing to watch. It has proceeded amongst some controversy, giving us a chance to say how a deliberative process plays out in a high-stakes setting.

Here is a bit of a (well-argued) take-down of deliberative democracy as an antidote to populism by Professor John Keane, founder of the Sydney Democracy Network. Here’s one of the more colorful excerpts: “In sum, we could say that the whole vision of ‘deliberative democracy’ suffers from nostalgia. Inspired originally by the work of Habermas (as my Public Life and Late Capitalism emphasised), deliberative democrats are secretly Greek.”

There’s this great piece, making an impassioned argument for entrusting people with meaningful citizenship.

I love this piece in the Washington Post Magazine, where they asked 38 artists and writers (of all political stripes) to offer suggestions about how to “fix” democracy.

To Listen
For your morning walk, here is an interesting interview with Professor Alfred Moore from the University of York. He takes on issues of political equality, gaps in wisdom, and the potential remedies offered by deliberation. Here’s his new book.

We are not alone
This week, the Strasbourg’s World Forum for democracy asks many of the same questions we have been asking ourselves, including questions like: “In this period of transition from representative to post-representative democracy, how can we encourage online media and communities that foster pluralism and deliberation rather than extremism and polarisation?”

Put Down Your Coffee
In this recent National Public Radio interview, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep interviewed National Review’s Jonah Goldberg about several recent speeches, including the speech by President George W. Bush sounding the alarm about the rise of nationalism. When Inskeep asked Goldberg about President Bush’s remarks, the following dialogue ensued:

GOLDBERG:  . . . .  He’s talking about the decline of democracy in Europe. He’s talking about the decline of, essentially, what we used to call the vital center in American politics, the idea of deliberative democracy, of respect for other people, of human dignity.

INSKEEP: I’m trying not to laugh as you say deliberative democracy.


INSKEEP: We’re pretty far from it at the moment. Go on.

GOLDBERG: I agree. I agree. And it’s sort of like the Edsel. We can be nostalgic for it.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) It was a fine car.

So . . .I’m not trying to rabble-rouse or anything, but just in case . . .Here is Steve Inskeep’s Twitter handle:  @NPRinskeep. I mean, a few examples wouldn’t hurt anybody, would they?

DDC member and partner National Civic League is hosting its 109th Annual Conference on the theme of “Building Community. Achieving Equity” next June in Denver. Save the date!

DDC recently held a Research and Practice Gathering, generously hosted at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  Here are some photos from the gathering, though I can’t really brag about their quality.  Here is Co-chair Bruce Mallory’s welcome talk.  And here is mine.  The DDC steering committee and staff hope to use some of what we learned in Chicago to help chart our next initiatives. But we also want to hear from you. If you see a place where DDC could be of service, let me know.  Let’s talk!

And . . . If you are interested in becoming a member of DDC, contact me at wendywddc@gmail.com

Keep doing all that good work! And stay in touch . . .