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Perhaps Partisan Rancor Isn’t The End…

 

 

It is certainly tempting to retreat into the fear that our democratic institutions are failing us. But as wintry as these political times are, there are always signs of a spring of cooperation. And, as with most such things, they usually occur on the local level first.

In Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics (Oxford University Press, 2020), by our clients John Gastil and Katie Knobloch, the authors introduce new tools for tamping down hyperpartisanship and placing citizens at the heart of the democratic process.

They showcase the Citizens’ Initiative Review, which convenes a demographically balanced, random sample of citizens to study statewide ballot measures. These regular ol’ citizens are the ones to ask questions of advocates, opponents, and experts and then write an analysis that distills their findings for voters.

John and Katie reveal how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues on their ballots. In the larger context of deliberative democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics. Are we ready for that? Will we be soon?

Remembering an afternoon spent in John’s office on the Penn State campus, where he holds a joint appointment as professor of communication arts & sciences and professor of political science, I can report that when you are around him and Katie, you can imagine a better, saner world to come.

About Book Architecture, the authors say, “A whole host of individuals have provided editorial feedback . . . most notably, Stuart Horwitz, who helped us think through the narrative arc of this book and shepherded us through the task of writing for a nonacademic audience.”

Filed under: CLIENTS CRUSHING IT

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