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Can America’s Democracy Be Improved?

This 2002 draft working paper of the Consensus Building Institute and the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program was written by Lawrence Susskind and Liora Zion.

Ideally, the democratic process ought to “direct the exercise of political rights toward the satisfaction of interests” and operate in ways that involve and educate all relevant stakeholders. The current structure and practice of representative democracy in the U.S. falls short of this ideal in several ways. First, too few people are involved in a meaningful way in most decisions that affect them and their communities, and there is too much dependence on electing representatives to speak on behalf of those whom they serve. Second, there is an over-reliance on majority rule, and a lack of emphasis on forging political consensus. This means that the concerns of certain “minorities” are constantly ignored. Very little effort has been made to increase the capacity of people who disagree or come from disparate schools of thought to interact in ways that encourage deeper understanding or reconciliation of differences.

Resource Link: www.lawrencesusskind.com/content/contributions/democracy.pdf

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