In the 20th century, public life revolved around government; in the 21st century, it will center on citizensBeneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. More than ever before, citizens are educated, skeptical, and capable of bringing the decision-making process to a sudden halt. Public officials and other leaders are tired of confrontation and desperate for resources. In order to address persistent challenges like education, race relations, crime prevention, land use planning, and economic development, communities have been forced to find new ways for people and public servants to work together.
The stories of civic experiments in "The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance -- and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same" by DDC Executive Director Matt Leighninger show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics.
FROM THE FOREWORD BY U.S. SENATOR BILL BRADLEY:
“In 1995, I learned firsthand about an idea that was stirring among public officials and community organizers across America. Shortly after O.J. Simpson's acquittal, Los Angeles city officials convened “Days of Dialogue” to give people throughout the city an opportunity to share their views on the complex and intensely personal topic of race relations. . . .
“Seeing the willingness of people to come together amid highly charged circumstances to talk about their lives, their fears, and their hopes made a deep impression on me. I was moved by the participants' civility and honesty, and I believe these discussions may have helped avert a wave of violence like the one that accompanied the 1992 Rodney King verdicts. Just as important, the dialogues gave participants a much-needed chance to talk plainly about racism and racial division with people from backgrounds different from their own. The Days of Dialogue - which expanded to take place nationally in the late 1990s - were an early example of the sort of civic engagement Matt Leighninger describes throughout The Next Form of Democracy. . . .
“The phenomenon - which is taking shape across the country in many different ways - is fueled by the notion that public life is too important to be left solely to the professionals. . . .
“Leighninger brings outstanding credentials to his task of documenting the rise of democratic governance. Through his work with the Study Circles Resource Center, the National League of Cities, and many other civic organizations, Leighninger has helped hundreds of communities in 40 states launch local efforts to bring citizens to the table on many issues . . . The stories he tells are rooted in his own experience - he really knows these people and has worked side-by-side with many of them. He has learned why civic engagement initiatives work - and how they sometimes fail.”
Learn more about "The Next Form of Democracy" and purchase a copy from Vanderbilt University Press online.