Deliberative Democracy

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Welcome to zombie democracy: If it often seems like democracy is devolving into something like a deathmatch between Bill O’Reilly and Michael Moore, well, that’s because in many ways, it is. Modern-day democracies are fragmented, polarized, and fractured along party lines–and that’s when they’re not gridlocked, apathied out, and paralyzed. So here’s a short summary of the status quo: welcome to zombie democracy! Now cast your vote and go back to the mall for four years. Yet—that’s the state of the art, right? Wrong. A robust democracy isn’t just about “voting”–it’s about forging a meaningful consensus. And getting there demands deliberative institutions: arenas in which citizens with competing perspectives can openly explore, discuss, and appreciate not just “how” they differ, but, more vitally, “why” they differ, and begin to resolve those differences–instead of letting the same old manufactured differences poison and paralyze the body democratic, from here to eternity. Sound impossible? A handful of renegades are already pointing the way way way beyond the zombiepocalypse of petty predictable partisan bickering; the way to, dare we say, democracy fit for humans.

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