Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly

Cambridge University Press
Free sample

Is it possible to advance democracy by empowering ordinary citizens to make key decisions about the design of political institutions and policies? In 2004, the government of British Columbia embarked on a bold democratic experiment: it created an assembly of 160 near-randomly selected citizens to assess and redesign the province's electoral system. The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly represents the first time a citizen body has had the power to reform fundamental political institutions. It was an innovative gamble that has been replicated elsewhere in Canada and in the Netherlands, and is gaining increasing attention in Europe as a democratic alternative for constitution-making and constitutional reform. In the USA, advocates view citizens' assemblies as a means for reforming referendum processes. This book investigates the citizens' assembly in British Columbia to test and refine key propositions of democratic theory and practice.
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About the author

Mark E. Warren holds the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair for the Study of Democracy and is Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia.

Hilary Pearse is a Ph.D. candidate and Commonwealth Scholar in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Feb 7, 2008
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Pages
253
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ISBN
9781139470926
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / Comparative Politics
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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This content is DRM protected.
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We live in an age of political polarization. As political beliefs on the left and the right have been pulled closer to the extremes, so have our social environments: we seldom interact with those with whom we don't see eye to eye. Making matters worse, we are being appealed to--by companies, products, and teams, for example--based on our deep-seated, polarized beliefs. Our choice of Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, Costco or Sam's Club, soccer or football, New York Times vs. Wall Street Journal is an expression of our beliefs and a reinforcement of our choice to stay within the confines of our self-selected political community, making us even more polarized. Letting it bleed into these choices in every corner of our lives, we take democracy too far and it ends up keeping us apart. We overdo democracy. When we overdo democracy, we allow it to undermine and crowd out many of the most important social goods that democracy is meant to deliver. What's more, in overdoing democracy, we spoil certain social goods that democracy needs in order to flourish. A thriving democracy needs citizens to reserve space in their social lives for collective activities that are not structured by political allegiances. To ensure the health and the future of democracy, we need to forge civic friendships by working together in social contexts in which political affiliations and party loyalties are not merely suppressed, but utterly beside the point. Drawing on his extensive research, Talisse sheds light on just how deeply entrenched our political polarization has become and opens our eyes to how often we allow politics to dictate the way we see almost everything. By limiting our interactions with others and our experience of the world so that we only encounter the politically like-minded, we are actually damaging the thing that democracy is meant to preserve in the first place: the more fundamental good of recognizing and respecting each other's standing as equals.
In the bestselling tradition of The World Is Flat and The Next 100 Years, THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER will be a much discussed, contrarian, and eye-opening assessment of American power.

Near the end of the Second World War, the United States made a bold strategic gambit that rewired the international system. Empires were abolished and replaced by a global arrangement enforced by the U.S. Navy. With all the world's oceans safe for the first time in history, markets and resources were made available for everyone. Enemies became partners.

We think of this system as normal-it is not. We live in an artificial world on borrowed time.

In THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER, international strategist Peter Zeihan examines how the hard rules of geography are eroding the American commitment to free trade; how much of the planet is aging into a mass retirement that will enervate markets and capital supplies; and how, against all odds, it is the ever-ravenous American economy that-alone among the developed nations-is rapidly approaching energy independence. Combined, these factors are doing nothing less than overturning the global system and ushering in a new (dis)order.

For most, that is a disaster-in-waiting, but not for the Americans. The shale revolution allows Americans to sidestep an increasingly dangerous energy market. Only the United States boasts a youth population large enough to escape the sucking maw of global aging. Most important, geography will matter more than ever in a de-globalizing world, and America's geography is simply sublime.

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