Democracy requires a connection to the 'will of the people'. What does that mean in a world of 'fake news', relentless advocacy, dialogue mostly among the like-minded, and massive spending to manipulate public opinion? What kind of opinion can the public have under such conditions? What would democracy be like if the people were really thinking in depth about the policies they must live with? If they really 'deliberated' with good information about their political choices?
This book argues that 'deliberative democracy' is not utopian. It is a practical solution to many of democracy's ills. It can supplement existing institutions with practical reforms. It can apply at all levels of government and for many different kinds of policy choices. This volume speaks to a recurring dilemma: listen to the people and get the angry voices of populism or rely on widely distrusted elites and get policies that seem out of touch with the public's concerns. Instead, there are methods for getting a representative and thoughtful public voice that is really worth listening to. Democracy is under siege in most countries, where democratic institutions have low approval and face a resurgent threat from authoritarian regimes. Deliberative democracy can provide an antidote and can reinvigorate our democratic politics.
This book draws on the author's research with many collaborators on 'Deliberative Polling'-a process conducted in 27 countries on six continents. It contributes both to political theory and to the empirical study of public opinion and participation. It should interest anyone concerned about the future of democracy and how it can be revitalized.
James S. Fishkin holds the Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication at Stanford University, where he is Professor of Communication and (by courtesy) Professor of Political Science. He is also Director of Stanford's Center for Deliberative Democracy. He is the author of Democracy and Deliberation (Yale, 1991), When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation (OUP, 2009) and other books. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California.
Part I: Introduction1. Party Competition and Its Limits