, 18 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Our democracy's in trouble, but there *are* ways to make it work much better. An upcoming 3-day structured national town meeting—"America in One Room"—is a key example. But two others can help amplify its benefits. 1/17
"America in One Room” will bring together a representative sample of > 500 registered voters to engage in a process known as “deliberative polling” focused on five big issues: health care, immigration, the environment, the economy and foreign policy:
The idea of representative mini-publics dates back at least to Athenian democracy, but "deliberative polling," developed by Stanford's James Fishkin has specific strengths & has been used 108 times in 28 countries. 3/17
In Texas, a series of 8 deliberative polls played a major role in the decision to charge ratepayers to develop wind energy. In less than a decade, it moved Texas from 50th to 1st in wind energy production. 4/17
S. Korean President Moon Jae-in used deliberative polling to decide on completing two nuclear reactors when he took office. Koreans are generally anti-nuclear, but preferred completion to importing fossil fuels. The process helped deal with deep public ambivalence. 5/17
Mongolia has gone the farthest, incorporating deliberative polling into the process of amending its constitution in 2017, following a first experience using it to prioritize construction projects in its capital city—a process through which a guiding set of values emerged: 6/17
The planning process also significantly built public trust, and 95% or more thought each part of the process was “valuable”: 7/17
The constitutional amendment deliberation was similarly successful. Two popular proposals from each of the major parties lost support under scrutiny, while good government measures were supported: 8/17
Mongolia's willingness to adopt deliberative polling may reflect how new democracy is there. America may lag because we take ours for granted—and we have more bad habits to unlearn. Two other ideas can help support deliberative polling here. 9/17
First is doing campaign coverage using a "citizens agenda" based on asking voters "What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes?". @jayrosen_nyu explained: 10/17
We can also take it one step further: Present voters with results from a deliberative poll like “America in One Room,” as a starting point, along with the question of what they want candidates to talk about. 11/17
Second is the model of "public interest polling" I described in a 2015 story. It uses balanced presentation of arguments and sequenced questioning to get nuanced views—but w/o group deliberation. Still, it can reveal valuable latent consensus. 12/17
For example, a 1991 energy poll found 5 “triple winners” (getting [1] the energy we need, while helping [2] the economy and [3] the environment) including these two: 13/17
Given this past example, I note "At the very least, the results of the environmental deliberations from America in One Room could be used as the basis for public interest polling, to see to what extent public opinion already reflects those deliberative results": 14/17
Shortly later, a poll on government reform found 70% or more support for 5 items, including motor voter—the only one adopted—as well as these two: 14/17
So much was left undone then, but now "The time is ripe for public interest polling on a wide range of proactive government reforms, up to and including ideas for making deliberative polling a normal part of our political process.": 15/17
“I think democracy is in trouble because people see it leading to deadlock, division, polarization and name-calling, and it’s not solving the public's problems,” Fishkin told me. “You need a mechanism that represents everybody," not just the elite or those angriest at them: 16/17
Read the whole story here: 17/17
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