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Online Civic Juries or Citizen Assemblies

Page history last edited by Mike 1 year, 1 month ago

Online Civic Juries or Citizen Assemblies: Enhancing Deliberative Democracy

Deliberative democracy is a vital component of our societal structure. Unfortunately, the current state of our institutions is marked by corruption and weaponization of information, limiting the efficacy of traditional deliberative democracy.

Policy-making needs to be rooted in deliberative democracy, and the reasoning behind policies should be transparently communicated. Public deliberation, while beneficial, must be organized effectively, much like Wikipedia's model of one page per topic with robust quality control measures.


Consider the concept of online, Wikipedia-style civic juries. Such a system could greatly improve civic discourse by incorporating conflict resolution, moderation, and cost-benefit analysis techniques. With automated processes promoting sound logic and identifying logical fallacies, the need for skilled moderators could be reduced.


The focus should be on the quality of evidence provided, not merely on the conclusions reached. This approach could lead to an "evidence-based political movement," where elected officials transparently reveal their reasoning, akin to "showing their math" in school.

Online platforms could facilitate this approach, functioning as open forums for cost-benefit analysis and discussions on the validity and relevance of different arguments. By employing techniques from conflict resolution and negotiation, these platforms could help to streamline the deliberative process.


For example, focusing on "interests, not positions," as taught in the book "Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreements without giving in," could be implemented in an online forum. This approach would facilitate the identification of shared, opposing, and individual interests of each group, allowing for a more nuanced and constructive discourse.


Moreover, online platforms provide a unique opportunity to engage a larger number of participants than traditional deliberative processes. This can lead to a broader range of perspectives, ultimately enriching the deliberative process.

One potential model for this approach is the "Deliberative Polling" system, developed by Stanford professor James Fishkin, which has been advocated by Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig. In this system, a "civic jury" of voters deliberates on various policy options, guided by expert presentations. The shifts in viewpoints over the course of the deliberation process provide valuable guidance for policymakers.


Countries like Iceland, Mongolia, and Ireland have successfully used such civic juries to suggest constitutional amendments. The outcomes of these juries have led to a broader understanding of key issues, improved legislation, and a more representative reflection of the people's will.


Addressing Problems:

  1. Opinion polls' lack of depth, breadth, and legitimacy often hinders legislation steering.
  2. Elected officials frequently ignore the public's will.
  3. The demographics of elected officials don't reflect the diversity of modern America.
  4. Americans rarely have the opportunity to express their opinions meaningfully outside of voting for preselected party candidates.

Proposed Actions:

  1. Convene representative "civic juries" to deliberate on key issues and legislation.
  2. Commit to debating and voting on any policy proposals put forward by this group.

Relevant Links:

With these measures, we can effectively enhance our deliberative democracy and ensure a more inclusive, transparent, and evidence-based political landscape.


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