Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Do we expect too little from citizens?

"DEMOCRACY’S CHALLENGE: Reclaiming the Public's Role" is the current public issue forum dealing with the issue of democracy. The booklet and materials placed online are great and can be used to foster group deliberations.

Here is one thought from that issue book worth pondering. Keith Melville writes about the central question to democracy that is discussed in the book, "Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined its Citizens and Privatized its Public." He writes, "it is one of the most practical questions you could ask about democratic governance. What, exactly, are citizens expected to do? Beyong voting and paying taxes, what is their public role and what are their responsiblities? It is not that most people today are disinclined to act in the public interest but rather that they are no longer asked to do much."

So what do you think? Do we expect too little from our citizens?
Yes, we expect too little from citizens and the government also thinks all citizens are stupid. We should expect more and we should raise the bar to be sure citizens are informed and actively taking part. Town hall or community meetings should almost be required. But, how could that be done in a free society? The real problem is apathy and the reason that community apathy exist may very well be more of a spiritual and moral issue than anything else.
I do think that too little is expected of citizens. But that answer raises questions about WHO it is we are referring to who is expecting too little. We probably don't expect enough of ourselves. We probably don't expect enough of our fellow citizens. But just for a moment at least, why don't we consider the role that our leaders' expectations might be playing. I believe our leaders' attitudes and expectations do have considerable influence on the rest of us citizens. We have to take responsibility for ourselves of course, but I don't think we can do it without the help of this country's leaders.
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