Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back Into Politics (Hardcover)
Concerned citizens across the globe fear that democratic institutions are failing them. Citizens feel shut out of politics and worry that politicians are no longer responsive to their interests. In Hope for Democracy, John Gastil and Katherine R. Knobloch introduce new tools for tamping down hyper-partisanship and placing citizens at the heart of the democratic process. They showcase the Citizens' Initiative Review, which convenes a demographically-balanced random sample of citizens to study statewide ballot measures. Citizen panelists interrogate advocates, opponents, and experts, then write an analysis that distills their findings for voters. Gastil and Knobloch reveal how this process has helped voters better understand the policy issues placed on their ballots. Placed in the larger context of deliberative democratic reforms, Hope for Democracy shows how citizens and public officials can work together to bring more rationality and empathy into modern politics.
John Gastil (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University, where he is a senior scholar at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. Gastil's research focuses on the theory and practice of deliberative democracy, especially how small groups of people make decisions on public issues. The National Science Foundation has supported his research on the Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review, the Australian Citizens' Parliament, jury deliberation, and cultural cognition. Katherine R. Knobloch (PhD, University of Washington) is an assistant professor and the associate director of the Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) in the Department of Communication Studies at Colorado State University. At the CPD Knobloch trains undergraduates in civic engagement and facilitation and works with community partners to design and implement public forums. She studies the development, evaluation, and impact of deliberative public processes, with a focus on how the emergence of deliberative institutions alters communities and individuals. Her research has appeared in numerous academic publications, including Politics, American Politics Research, and the Journal of Applied Communication Research.