by Wendy Willis Executive Director, Deliberative Democracy Consortium Writer in Residence, Healthy Democracy It won't surprise you when I say: The state of our union is a little rickety. Hate...
Hello Friends and Champions of Deliberative Democracy—
Happy February to you all. My favorite Valentine showed up yesterday in The New York Times, which quoted Obaid Malik as saying: “People are still going to go out and do their thing and have fun—maybe just in different ways. You can’t ban love,” after Pakistan prohibited Valentine’s Day celebrations for the second year in a row.
But I also don’t think we can ignore the fact that yesterday—once again—American children and their teachers were murdered at school. Here is Douglas High School student, David Hogg—after surviving yesterday’s school shooting—imploring us: ““We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done.” That, my friends, is an imperative for a functioning democracy.
American Democracy at Risk
There is this report detailing risks to American democracy. Though it takes a fairly partisan stance, it has pretty good (and persuasive) list of six markers of a democracy in decline. You can guess what they are–everything from intentionally undermining independent institutions to delegitimizing immigrants and religious minorities.
And this from Ezra Klein in Vox highlighting the a new book from Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die. As Klein puts it: “Of the book’s broad lessons, this is the one of most relevance to the United States in 2018: Democracies fend off challenges when participants value the preservation of the system — its norms and ideals and values — over short-term political gain.”
The Knight Foundation teamed up with Gallup on this report about why Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low. (Warning the animations are a little intense and potentially migraine-triggering).
Cake Mix, Economics, & Deliberation
Check out this fascinating critique of the use of focus groups and the “culture of consultation.” It’s a good one.
And there is this from the U.K., describing the Citizens’ Economic Council, a two-year program to engage citizens in deliberations on national economic policy.
Poets & Policy
Read this piece by Canada’s former Poet Laureate on “the constitutional assembly” he convened at University of British Columbia to propose amendments to the Constitution.
Better Late than Never
Somehow I missed David Weinberg’s response to Cass Sunstein’s recently updated book, #Republic, in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The heart of Weinberg’s disagreement is here: “It may simply be time to give up on the Enlightenment ideal of discourse as the sole model and measure of human conversation.” He also compellingly argues: “Most of all, we see a persistently noisy self-organizing and self-complicating mess that refuses to resolve, resulting in a web of inconsistent and simultaneous meanings. But this is not noise. It only sounds like noise outside of our own echo chambers.” The whole thing is worth a ready, though. (Ditto Sunstein’s book!)
Our friends at George Mason University are hosting an event called Public Journalism & Deliberative Democracy: Exploring the Role of Narrative on March 5, 2018. Our very own Carolyn Lukensmeyer will offer the keynote. The event is all day and open to the public.
That’s it for now. Remember, if you are interested in becoming a member of DDC, contact me at email@example.com
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