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The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance… and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same

According to author Matt Leighninger, beneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. More than ever before, citizens are educated, skeptical, and capable of bringing the decision-making process to a sudden halt. Public officials and other leaders are tired of confrontation and desperate for resources. In order to address persistent challenges like education, race relations, crime prevention, land use planning, and economic development, communities have been forced to find new ways for people and public servants to work together.

The stories of civic experiments in this 2006 book can show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics. The book can be purchased at http://www.vanderbiltuniversitypress.com/books/193/the-next-form-of-democracy.

A note from the author to the NCDD community (10/06):

I was inspired to write this book by my experiences working with public officials, community organizers, and other leaders of democracy-building efforts. Over the last twelve years, I’ve had the chance to work with communities in my job with the Study Circles Resource Center, and later in my work for the National League of Cities, the League of Women Voters, the Centers for Disease Control, and NeighborWorks America. I’m now moving into an exciting new role, as executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

The book describes how the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic and critical shift in its development. More than ever before, citizens are educated, skeptical, and capable of bringing the decision making process to a sudden halt. Public officials and other leaders are tired of confrontation and desperate for resources. In order to address persistent challenges like education, race relations, crime prevention, land use planning, and economic development, communities have been forced to find new ways for people and public servants to work together.

Because you are NCDD members, I know that you are playing a huge role this transition. In the book, I’ve tried to show how many of our civic experiments have coalesced around a core set of strategies. Communities are recruiting large, diverse numbers of people, and involving them in small, deliberative groups, large forums, and ongoing structures like neighborhood councils. People like you – or, in some cases, organizers working with your help – are creating new arenas where citizens can compare notes on their experiences, analyze different options, find common ground, make decisions, and take action. Our collective work reaps great benefits, raises new challenges, and results in new twists to time-honored questions about rights, representation, and power.

This is the only book I will be writing (if there are any subsequent forms of democracy, I promise to ignore them), so I am doing my best to promote it. Please feel free to forward this email or give the attached form to anyone you know who might be interested. I’m on the lookout for opportunities to talk about the book – I’ll be giving talks at conferences and community events over the next year or so. If you know about, or want to set up, any of those kinds of events, please let me know.

Thanks for your support and encouragement -

Matt

Matt Leighninger
Executive Director
Deliberative Democracy Consortium
905-972-0550

Table of Contents

Foreword by Bill Bradley

Introduction – Things Your Mayor Never Told You: The Recent Transformation of Local Democracy

Section 1 – The State of Democracy

Chapter 1 – Good Citizens and Persistent Public Problems

Chapter 2 – Is Everything Up to Date in Kansas City? Why “Citizen Involvement” May Soon Be Obsolete

Section 2 – Appeals to Citizenship

Chapter 3 – Of Pigs and People: Sprawl, Gentrification, and the Future of Regions

Chapter 4 – The Increasing Significance of Race in Public Life

Chapter 5 – Washington Goes to Mr. Smith: The Changing Role of Citizens in Policy Development

Section 3 – Building Shared Governance

Chapter 6 – The Strange Career of Chuck Ridley: Drug Abuse, Community Organizing, and ‘Government by Nonprofits’

Chapter 7 – ‘Marrying’ Schools and Communities: Endless Love or Affair to Remember?

Chapter 8 – Sharing the Buck: Communities Rethink Public Finances and Public Responsibilities

Conclusion – Things to Come

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