By Popular Demand:
Revitalizing Representative Democracy through Deliberative Elections
There are two problems in American politics. The first problem is
that the public doesn't believe that the government represents its
interests. The second problem is that they are right. When elected
officials fail to represent the public's interests, government policies
will not solve our most serious social problems. When the public loses
trust in its elected officials, it becomes difficult for the government
to govern, and citizens withdraw from the political process. By Popular
Demand carefully examines these two problems and suggests how
By Popular Demand introduces a political reform that enables the public to discern its underlying interests, record its voice, and link this voice to collective voting choices. Government institutions could bring together randomly-selected panels of citizens to deliberate on candidates, ballot measures, and legislation. Each of the five proposed citizen panel designs follows a similar process: over four-to-five days, panelists meet with expert witnesses, deliberate among themselves, and reach judgments about candidates and issues. Afterward, election officials communicate the panel recommendations to voters through Internet sites, bulk-mailed voter guides, and information printed directly on ballots. If properly designed and implemented experimentally, these citizen panels could reach deliberative judgments, provide valuable information that voters would use, and, as a result, improve the quality of representation and restore public trust in government.
Follow-up notes on By Popular Demand:
- The Citizens' Initiative Review process established by Oregon's legislature in 2009 is an example of the kinds of reforms proposed in By Popular Demand.
- Political Communication and Deliberation extends the ideas in By Popular Demand by presenting a more comprehensive definition of deliberation.
- The Deliberative Democracy Handbook provides concrete examples of deliberative reforms referenced in By Popular Demand.