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📙 The Dialogue of Justice: Toward a Self-Reflective Society by James S. Fishkin — free download


This text proposes a new kind of democracy for the modern era, one that not only gives citizens more power but also allows them more opportunities to exercise this power thoughtfully. James S. Fishkin here suggests a solution to the problem of inadequate deliberation, in particular within the presidential nomination system. His reform involves a well-publicized national caucus in which a representative sample of American citizens would interact directly with presidential contenders in order to reflect and vote on the issues and candidates. In adapting democracy to the large-scale nation state, says Fishkin, Americans have previously had two choices. They could participate directly through primaries and referendums or they could depend on elite groups - such as party conventions and legislatures - to represent them. The first choice offers political equality but little chance for deliberation; the second offers the participants an opportunity to deliberate but provides less political equality for the electorate. The national caucus that Fishkin proposes - an example of what he calls a "deliberative opinion poll" - combines deliberation with direct democracy and reveals what the public would think if it had better conditions and information with which to explore and define the issues with the candidates. Arguing for the usefulness of deliberative opinion polls, Fishkin places them within the history of democratic theory and practice, exploring models of democracy ranging from ancient Athens and the debates of the American founders to contemporary transitions toward democracy in Eastern Europe. Fishkin's democratic system proposed in this book will be introduced to the American public in the beginning of the 1992 presidential selection season when the Public Broadcasting System televises the country's first deliberative opinion poll. The PBS 600 is scheduled for February 1992 when 600 randomly selected delegates representing the entire American electorate will convene with the presidential candidates in Austin, Texas for several days. Fishkin is the chief academic adviser to the program.

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