Thursday, August 17, 2006


What is there for a citizen to do?

Matthew Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, in their book "Downsizing Democracy," write that "contemporary elites have found that they need not engage in the arduous task of building popular constituencies. Public interest groups and environmental groups have large mailing lists but few active members; civil rights groups field more attorneys than protestors; and national political parties activate a familiar few rather than risk mobilizing anonymous millions."

According to Crenson and Ginsberg, the outcome is that we have become "a nation of emphatically private citizens -- customers and clients who find it difficult to express coherent common interests."

One side of the deliberation about democracy says we Americans have entered into an age of politics that no longer needs a public. In fact, some say being a citizen has become a role with little substance. What is left for a citizen to do? What is the answer?

Keith Melville, a senior faculty member at the Fielding Graduate University, says "to revive public life, we need to devise new ways -- or revive old ways -- for citizens to join together around common concerns to regain a sense of colletive agency."

Many say we have become a nation of private citizens. What can be done?
Thanks for starting this blog. It is a good addition and I look forward to reading what others have to say about public deliberation, especially the issues related to democracy.
Thank you David, these look interesting. I am pleased you are continuing to keep the public issues forums in front of people. Great job. - Sandy Hodge
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