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Launch of Voice of the People and its Campaign for a Citizen Cabinet

Here’s an important announcement from one of our supporting members, Steven Kull. Steven is Research Scholar and Director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. I’ve been watching Steven’s work with great interest over the last few years especially, and I’m exciting about Voice of the People.

Dear NCDD Community,

I would like to announce that our new organization Voice of the People (VOP) and its Campaign for a Citizen Cabinet had its rollout last month. The website is now up at www.vop.org.

VOP seeks to give the American people a greater voice in government by:

  • Working with Congress to establish a national Citizen Cabinet, a large standing panel comprised of a representative sample of the American public, to be consulted on current issues, using new online interactive tools to give voice to the people on an unprecedented scale; and
  • Making these same online resources available to all Americans, so they can get better informed and more effectively communicate their views to their representatives.

In the short term we will be developing interim Citizen Cabinets in a number of states and Congressional districts as well as consulting the public on a national level on issues currently in front of Congress.


We have also been having many meetings on the Hill with Congressional staffers and some Members and have been getting a very positive response to the idea of establishing a new Congressionally-chartered National Academy for Public Consultation that would run a Citizen Cabinet as well as doing other forms of public consultation.

We hope you will go to the website, find out more, sign the petition and stay in touch.

At the rollout event at the National Press Club members of our advisory board spoke, including former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), former House Members Bill Frenzel (R-MN) and Martin Frost (R-TX), former House Member and Governor Mike Castle (R-DE), and Wendy Willis of the Policy Consensus Initiative. You can see the video of the event on the site.

The event led to press coverage in Politico, US News and World Report, Roll Call, the Christian Science Monitor and other places, as well as some television coverage.

The plan for the Citizen Cabinet goes like this… It will be comprised of 275 citizens in every congressional district—120,000 nationwide—scientifically selected to accurately reflect the American people, and connected through an online interface. Each Citizen Cabinet member will serve for 9-12 months, and Internet access will be provided to those who do not already have it, to make sure everyone is represented.

On a regular basis, members of the Citizen Cabinet will go through an online public consultation on a pressing issue facing the federal government. For each issue, Citizen Cabinet members will:

  1. Get Briefed: Get unbiased background information reviewed by experts and congressional staff from both parties;
  2. Weigh the Arguments: Learn about the policy options that are actually on the table and evaluate the pros and cons; and.
  3. Make Choices: Choose from a menu of policy options, or go through a more in-depth process that requires making trade-offs (e.g. creating a budget).

Finally, the Citizen Cabinet’s recommendations will be broken down by state and congressional district, and reported to each Member of Congress, the President, the news media and the public.

The Citizen Cabinet will be managed, with bi-partisan oversight, by a new National Academy for Public Consultation. All of the materials presented to the Citizen Cabinet—the briefing, competing arguments, and policy options—will be vetted by a bipartisan group of experts and available online for anyone to see.


While members of the Citizen Cabinet would be scientifically selected to be a representative sample of the public, VOP seeks to give all Americans the opportunity to use these same online interactive tools–getting briefed, weighing competing arguments and coming to conclusions on key policy options. We will also make these tools available to schools, community groups and other organizations.

Citizens will be able to better engage and make more effective recommendations to their representatives, as their input will be more informed and focused on the actual policy choices and tradeoffs Congress is facing.

We would be interested in hearing from people who have been doing related work. There may be ways we can work together. Please let us know.

Again, please do visit the website www.vop.org and sign up so we can keep you posted on how things develop.

Steven Kull

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. As I discuss in my latest blog entry, I think that VOP is the most important initiative on the planet right now. That’s because climate change simply can’t be addressed by our partisan, plutocratic system.

    Getting tens of millions of voters to care enough to make their voices heard (at least enough to secure pledges from our House members to be accountable to their constituencies) is the hard part.

    I hope that many in the Transformational Media movement will find a way to tell myriad stories — stories that have a shot at going viral — by linking compelling issues of peace, justice and sustainability to the “boring” conclusion, “it is time for real democracy – ask your representative to take the Voice of the People pledge”.

    They could start with Sandy Hook and the trumping of 90% of voters.

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