Monthly Archives: October 2010

Jürgen Habermas approves this message

I expected my morning newspaper to bring stories about angry American voters and American politicians behaving ridiculously: data about the state of our democracy. I did not expect to see a wide-ranging essay on German democracy by one of the … Continue reading

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civic health in the states

The National Conference on Citizenship has partnerships with 17 states or large cities that are releasing glossy, detailed reports on their own communities’ “civic health.” My organization, CIRCLE (with funding from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service) provided … Continue reading

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what the markets think about the election

I was in a foundation board meeting today, in DC. We heard the usual presentation from investment advisers about the state of the endowment and the future of the markets. Their boilerplate document treats as a positive factor the coalition … Continue reading

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trying to look at the Empire State Building

(Washington, DC) Over the weekend, I finished Mark Kingwell’s excellent book Nearest Thing to Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams. By coincidence, I spent today in an office three blocks south of the actual Empire State Building. I … Continue reading

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a map of the civic renewal field

If there is not yet a civic renewal movement, there are certainly many organizations and individuals devoted to fair, deliberative, transparent, participatory democracy. If we hope to build a movement, it is important to understand these groups, how they fit … Continue reading

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economic stimulus, compared

A New York Times news article asserts that Keynsianism is being ignored in Europe. Instead of stimulating their economies by borrowing and spending or cutting taxes, European governments are tightening their belts. Writing specifically about the looming cuts in Britain, … Continue reading

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the proper role of experimentation in social reform

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. … Continue reading

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youth voting in the news

Here I am on CBS News, talking about youth voting: We’ve been doing a lot of press work, and reporters’ main questions seem to be: “Why are young people disconnected?” and “What will the decline in their enthusiasm mean for … Continue reading

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deliberation on campuses

“Public deliberation” is a positive synonym for “talk”; and definitions of “public deliberation” tend to list positive characteristics like fairness, non-coercion, freedom of speech, seriousness, relevance, use of valid information, and civility. Since these are supposed to be characteristics of … Continue reading

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a different transparency agenda

“Transparency” means making the government’s decisions public–along with all potential influences on government–so that the results will be better: less corrupt, more fair, wiser. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Louis Brandeis, and his theory has many proponents today. One … Continue reading

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