Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Practical Democracy description

Posted on Quora in response to the following question:

One possibility is called Practical Democracy and is described at:


Practical Democracy is an electoral process through which the people actively participate in the conduct of, and impress their moral sense on, their government.  It creates a unique merger of self-interest and the public interest and lets each of us share in the practice of politics to the full extent of our desire and ability.

The process lets the public discuss substantive matters - with a purpose.  It gives participants time for deliberation and an opportunity to understand the rationale for the positions of others.  Participants consider both common and conflicting interests, and, because the process is intrinsically bidirectional, it gives advocates of conflicting interests a continuing voice.  At the same time, it encourages the absorption of diverse interests, reducing them to their essential element: their effect on the participants in the electoral process.  There are no platforms, there is no ideology.  The only question is, which participants are most attuned to the needs of the community and have the qualities required to advocate the common good.

The cost of conducting an election by this method is free to the participants, except for the value of their time, and minimal to the government.  The length of time taken to complete an election compares favorably with the time required by campaign-based partisan systems.

Practical Democracy lets every member of the electorate affect the electoral process to the full extent of their desire and ability.  That is the essence of a democratic political process.

Full Disclosure:  I wrote Practical Democracy.  However, the opinion that it is 'interesting' was confirmed by Jane Mansbridge who was good enough to say:

"Thank you for sending it to me.  It's the most innovative democratic idea I have seen in decades."

Dr. Mansbridge is author of Beyond Adversary Democracy and other works on democracy and is the Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values at Harvard University.


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