Democracy requires some connection to the “will of the people.” But there are impediments to how that will is formed and how it is connected to public decisions. Efforts to manipulate public opinion, the competitive pressures of campaigns, discussions among the like-minded on social media, distortions of campaign finance all make it difficult for a mostly inattentive mass public to come to considered judgments. “Deliberative democracy” offers a useful method of supplementing our current political practices. There is a need for research and experimentation into entry points for a thoughtful and representative public voice. Such efforts provide a solution to a recurring dilemma—do we listen to the people and get the angry voices of populism or rely on widely distrusted elites and get policies that seem out of touch with the public’s concerns. Populism or technocracy? Deliberative democracy can provide a thoughtful and representative public voice.
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