Saturday 4th of December 2021

Suggestion for developing democratic muscle (Philip Sutton)

The election result was a disaster, but it was a result that has been a long time coming - decades, not weeks or months. I think we've let the democratic muscle of our citizenry/society run down to a dangerous level.

We will need to build up media outlets that have a strong commitment to democracy - but even more importantly we need to draw more and more ordinary people into being involved in sorting out public policy issues. Simply voting is not enough - whether at elections or in referenda - because it's too easy to let someone else tell you what to vote. What we need practice at is actually thinking through and talking through issues with our fellow citizens and seeking out good info to feed into our cogitations.

Maybe local governments (or any other governments) that have a commitment to building our democratic muscle could institute a system of calling in relatively large numbers of citizens (in a manner vaguely reminiscent of the jury service idea) to work through issues that involve ethical dilemmas. If most citizens were engaged in such a process on one issue or another every 5 years or so throughout our lives, my guess would be that we'd become a lot better at democracy - we'd think clearer, we'd be better informed, we'd be used to caring about public issues as well as private issues, and we'd be inclined to take less crap from those who we elect to work for us in government.

Cheers.