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Governing America: Our Choices, Our Challenge (NIF Report)

This 1998 report assembled by Doble Research Associates analyzes people’s thinking about democratic government as they deliberated in two-hour-long forums held in an array of settings across the country. Find more details & order info on the NIF website.

The 1997-1998 NIF issue book, Governing America: Our Choices, Our Challenge, presents three choices or alternative options to improve the way government functions: the first focuses on government and advances the idea of turning over government functions to the private sector and suggests that a cutback on government would revive the role of civic and charitable organizations; the second centers on reducing the influence of lobbyists and special interests, strictly limiting campaign spending and initiating public financing of congressional and presidential campaigns, and transferring power from Washington to the state and local levels; the third choice focuses, not on government, but on citizens and the role of the public specifically; on reviving people’s tendencies to form small-scale associations and act together to deal with public issues or community problems.

This report is based on an analysis of the views of 1,441 participants who filled out and sent in a Pre- and Post-Forum ballot about governing America from nearly 150 forums conducted across the U.S. between December 1997 and April 1998. In addition, professionals from Doble Research — a nonpartisan research firm that specializes in studying public thinking about complex policy issues, working with Milton Hoffman Productions, which produced the nationally broadcast Public Television special, “Governing America: A Public Voice,” hosted by David Gergen — conducted an in- depth, qualitative analysis of 18 forums by videotaping, transcribing, and observing forums, and interviewing moderators and participants from across the country. The methodology used to compile this report is detailed in a separate section.

More about National Issues Forums and their Reports on the Issues…

The National Issues Forums (NIF) network includes civic, educational, and other organizations, and individuals, whose common interest is to promote public deliberation in America. NIF issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. Look through all the NIF issue guides and their corresponding moderator guides, DVDs, and other resources at www.nifi.org/issue_books.

Reports are published periodically to communicate the outcomes of forums held across the nation about a particular issue. Making use of participants’ answers to forum questionnaires, reports from moderators, and in-depth studies of selected forums, these reports describe in some detail what happened as people deliberated about the issue at hand. View all NIF Reports on the Issues at www.nifi.org/reports/issues.aspx.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/reports/detail_issues.aspx?catID=17&itemID=314

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