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Politics with the People
Building a Directly Representative Democracy

$29.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology

  • Date Published: August 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107539860

$ 29.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Many citizens in the US and abroad fear that democratic institutions have become weak, and continue to weaken. Politics with the People develops the principles and practice of 'directly representative democracy' - a new way of connecting citizens and elected officials to improve representative government. Sitting members of Congress agreed to meet with groups of their constituents via online, deliberative town hall meetings to discuss some of the most important and controversial issues of the day. The results from these experiments reveal a model of how our democracy could work, where politicians consult with and inform citizens in substantive discussions, and where otherwise marginalized citizens participate and are empowered. Moving beyond our broken system of interest group politics and partisan bloodsport, directly representative reforms will help restore citizens' faith in the institutions of democratic self-government, precisely at a time when those institutions themselves feel dysfunctional and endangered.

    • Proposes reforms to democratic practices, and develops a new democratic theory regarding citizen participation in representative government
    • Features a series of ground breaking experiments in which Members of Congress were randomly assigned to samples of their constituents and participated in online town hall meetings about some of the most important and controversial issues of the day
    • The paper that motivated the core argument of this book won the Heinz Eulau Prize for the best paper published in the American Political Science Review - the highest paper award in Political Science
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this path-breaking book, the authors present a new approach to democratic governance - what they call ‘directly representative democracy'. Their approach is sure to change how scholars discuss democracy, and more practically, could change how democracy works. It may well be one of the most important books on democracy and representation in decades.' James Druckman, Northwestern University, Illinois

    'A breakthrough book, conceptually and practically … it shows how the internet can connect groups of randomly-selected citizens to their congressional representatives for in-depth discussions of important policies. The new ideas about democracy advocated here, combined with the new institutions that the book demonstrates, are easy to implement and have the capacity to revolutionize representative government as we know it … A must-read for elected representatives, citizens, and theorists of democracy.' Jane Mansbridge, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Massachusetts

    'This book is terrific: beautifully written, culturally relevant, and politically important … The authors achieve a hard-earned degree of optimism about our republic that most Americans, members of Congress, and congressional staff are desperate for … a gift to the Congress and to the citizens of the United States.' Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation

    'The authors provide a potentially game-changing approach for reducing the polarization that paralyzes Washington. Well-written and meticulously researched, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in realistic and workable solutions to congressional dysfunction.' Jason Altmire, Member of Congress (2007–13) and author of Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It

    'At last, a solution-driven, practical, researched approach to civil discourse about our government! How I wish this tool had been available when I served in Congress - it could finally change the tenor of our public debate and at last include citizens into congressional decision-making in a meaningful way. This process could begin to restore America’s trust in its government and representatives’ accountability to their constituents. Novel and long overdue.' Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress (R-OH15, 1993–2009)

    'Research like this is essential at a time when democracy around the world, as well as in this country, is facing serious challenges.' David Mathews, President, Kettering Foundation

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107539860
    • length: 184 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: directly representative democracy
    1. The spirit and form of popular government
    2. Building a new home style
    3. Half of democracy
    4. Rational ignorance and reasonable learning
    5. (The) deliberative persuasion
    6. Representative connections
    7. Scaling up and scaling out
    Conclusion: Republican redux.

  • Authors

    Michael A. Neblo, Ohio State University
    Michael A. Neblo is Associate Professor of Political Science and (by courtesy) Philosophy and Public Policy, and Director of the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) at Ohio State University.

    Kevin M. Esterling, University of California, Riverside
    Kevin M. Esterling is Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of California, Riverside.

    David M. J. Lazer, Northeastern University/Harvard University
    David M. J. Lazer is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, and Co-Director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern University, Boston.

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