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Publisher's Summary

Hope for Democracy introduces new tools for tamping down hyper-partisanship and placing citizens at the heart of the democratic process.

It showcases the Citizens' Initiative Review, which convenes a stratified random sample of citizens to study ballot measures. Citizen panelists interrogate advocates, opponents, and experts, then write an analysis that distills their findings for voters. Gastil and Knobloch reveal how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues placed on their ballots.

Placed in the larger context of democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics.

©2020 John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch (P)2020 John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch

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The hard fought beginnings of true democratic rule

The subtitle of this book reads: "How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back Into Politics." That "HOW" is by passing the reins of civic decision making to regular citizens in a setting where they can be well informed and deliberate amongst themselves in an open minded way to reach a thoughtful, rational conclusion. You may be asking yourself: "Isn't that what we want our legislators to do?" And the answer is "Yes, of course." And as you know, generally, nothing of the sort is happening, yet. But it is happening, and has been happening since the 1970s, among regular citizens, who do not need to be re-elected, who do not have to raise money to fund campaigns and who do not need to toe the political party line. HOPE FOR DEMOCRACY tells the story of the earliest pioneers of what is now known as Deliberative Democracy. You may have never heard of it. But it is happening in pockets all around the world, and the authors of this book have beautifully chronicled its slow and often painful rise from conception until today. If you think there is no way to rescue our elected leaders from the haphazard, conflict-driven way we create our laws, it turns out that we, the citizens, are the way. And the authors, Gastil and Knobloch, who are not only excellent storytellers, but scholars, have done the years of research to prove it. If you want a glimpse into the future of democracy, this book is required reading.