10 Challenges for Local Democracy

Local communities areĀ  struggling with an historic rupture in democratic governance that is altering the traditional roles and responsibilities of citizens, government, and business in how we make public decisions and govern ourselves. This struggle is being shaped by four long-term trends. Four Long-Term Trends 1. Much of the policy shift at local and state government levels is driven by a pervasive fiscal instability and imbalance-a perpetual fiscal crisis- that has been building for the past 15 years, and reached crisis proportion during the 2008 housing bubble crash and recession. It may not be the ‘perfect storm’ cited in...

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The Rise of American Democracy

I am re-reading Sean Wilentz’s The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, in part because the book is a thoroughly enjoyable read, but also because it is a good reminder that democracy is not destiny and should never be taken for granted. Wilentz writes: Democracy appears when some large numbers of previously excluded, ordinary persons – what the eighteenth century called “the mob” – secure the power not simply to select their governors but to oversee the institutions of government, as officeholders and as citizens free to assemble and criticize those in office. Democracy is never a gift...

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Civility and Kindergarten

robert-fulghum

I've been thinking about a conference call I had this week with the American Bar Association Civility Task Force about encouraging more civil public discourse by all government officials, politicians, media, and advocacy groups. At one point, our conversation turned to what might be effective tools or practices of civility to promote, and we concluded that we needed to research existing civility tools and dispute resolution training programs to see what might be most useful. Perhaps sometimes in the world of government, politics, and public policy we just make things too complicated. Perhaps sometimes we just need to remember what...

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Eau Claire City Council Adopts ABA Resolution on Civil Public Discourse

On Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council adopted a resolution urging all government officials, politicians, political parties, media, and advocacy groups to work harder for civil public discourse. The Eau Claire City Council resolution notes that dialogue, respectful communication, and informed public decision-making are central to civil public discourse, which is at the heart of American democracy. The Eau Claire City Council underscored the importance of: Demonstrating respect for opposing views; Listening to others with an open mind; Seeking opportunities to build community through collaboration and principled compromise; Striving for more civil public discourse in the conduct of officials...

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