This series, by BANR founder, Ted Wachtel, applies the concept of citizens’ assemblies to an urgent need that the U.S. Congress avoids — gun violence and how to prevent it. Wachtel identifies the reasons legislators can’t do it and why a diverse group of citizens can. No longer theoretical, in the last few years citizens’ assemblies […]
“The voters arrived from all over the country: nine of them named John, 10 who’d come from mobile homes, four who lived in South Dakota. Twenty-seven considered themselves extremely conservative; 30 said they were extremely liberal. Twenty-one were out of work and looking for it. Two came with service dogs.”
In 109 deliberative polls held in 28 countries around the world, after hearing speakers and deliberating with others, people change their choices from the first telephone poll almost 70 percent of the time.
“The public is very smart if you give it a chance…If people think their voice actually matters, they’ll do the hard work, really study their briefing books, ask the experts smart questions and then make tough decisions. When they hear the experts disagreeing, they’re forced to think for themselves. About 70 percent change their minds in the process.”
Citizens’ assemblies chosen by sortition, completely match James Surowiecki’s criteria for good large group decision-making. They focus on legislation, rather than re-election.
Citizens’ assemblies represent a revolution by conversation, reducing the influence of partisan politics and increasing the opportunity for the citizenry to deal with society’s challenges.
As a veteran Congressional lobbyist once observed, legislators “would like to do the right thing, if only they can get away with it.” But legislators must please their donors, or risk losing their financial support in the next election. That sad fact was starkly demonstrated in November, 2017, in the weeks before the vote approving the tax cut bill.
I wanted to the T’vier students to understand that while their school differs from traditional Flemish schools, they were connected to a larger, global community of students who were experiencing new ways of learning, connecting, communicating, and participating as responsible and active citizens.
I realize that we can’t change the world until we change ourselves. The macro and micro are interrelated. Thinking that there is no relationship between how we treat our children, and the people we elect who set policies that govern the care and education of all children and families, is where we run into trouble.
“What is a new reality and how do you build it?” is one of our most frequently asked questions. A new reality is one in which participants have “more voice, more choice, and more responsibility.” There are as many ways to build a new reality as there are stars in the sky. Therefore, the best […]