Is there such a thing as ‘public wisdom’ beyond the mob consciousness present in politics beyond reason today? Who is actually making sense common among the political activities?
Beyond the hoopla Americans ought to be a bit scared of the current political playing field. It’s very angry and projective. Perhaps the public is hypnotized into ‘politics as usual’; feelings of distrust turn into apathy and non-engagement. What ever happened to working together?
The chest-beating and opponent berating isn’t enough, though. American citizens haven’t learned enough from past performance and/or inherent lack of integrity that is dividing a country. Business has no business in politics, yet corporate concerns appear to be running the show now. How can we change that?
Beyond elections, public participation, and citizen input, we must find a way to produce wise public policy. In Empowering Public Wisdom, lifelong activist Tom Atlee shows how diverse views can be engaged around public issues in ways that generate a coherent, shared “voice of the people,” infusing the political process with common sense and guiding intelligent decision making.
True public wisdom results when the public—as a whole or in randomly selected mini-publics—engages in learning about, reflecting on, and discussing what needs to be taken into account to produce long-term, inclusive benefits. Such a process, Atlee suggests, moves us beyond partisanship to a place of collective responsibility for our shared destiny.
Atlee presents a wide array of practical solutions, including citizen deliberative councils, conversational processes for mass public participation, and ideas for institutionalizing the power of public wisdom in our government. Combining a broad vision with practical solutions, Empowering Public Wisdom provides a unique and refreshing voice in the political arena.
Atlee’s core approach is through citizen deliberative councils in which a small group of people randomly selected come together as a “mini-public” or a microcosm of the larger population. Such citizen deliberative councils engage in the study of a public issue or concern and make recommendations to public officials and the community, but disband afterward. When new issues arise – or on a periodic basis decided by the community – new councils are formed.
Ultimately, Atlee aims even higher, suggesting a possible fourth branch of government to better balance our current democratic system.