2021-06-01 06:58:27 –
Americans are more concerned about political polarization than ever before. According to the latest Public Agenda Hidden Common Ground survey, 93% of Americans say it’s important to reduce American division. More than one-third say that partisan divisions are affecting their lives. Although the United States has become a symbol of bipartisanism, people in many other countries have similar concerns about their political system.
At the same time, citizens have the hope of overcoming the polarization. People seem to have a firm belief in the basic human ability to communicate, understand each other, respect differences, and compromise.
People are more likely to place the responsibility for polarization on their leaders and government systems. Most Americans (77%) are top-down caused by constructive disagreements in the United States. I think there is. “Many politicians artificially divide society,” said former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton, a recent global learning on democratic innovation hosted by Club de Madrid and Patissipedia. Said in one of the webins. Bruton pointed out that part of the problem was the use of political strategies based on the use of the wedge problem. He added that “few people support non-speaking institutions.”
Our ability to compromise is hampered by the challenges of scale. That is, the fact that we have to bridge across countries that are geographically and online classified into similar clusters. It is also limited by the structure of today’s political system, which promotes conflict even at the level closest to home, rather than providing a way to deal with conflict. And it’s complicated, even in the United States and other countries, because racism persists.
Three types of democratic innovation have emerged to address the divisions of society.
1) Efforts to connect local people
2) A national or multinational initiative to use technology to build large-scale bridges.
3) Changes in the governance process that seek to make bridging and cooperation between citizens part of public decision-making.
The first two types take the form of activities or initiatives, and the third type is more structural. The success of these three types of innovation probably depends on how well they can build and support each other.
The term “democracy innovation” may seem strange, especially in the United States, as we tend to treat democracy as an inheritance, not an improveable system, and unchanged. .. Of course, that changes. People around the world are changing democracy, and we can learn a lot from how those modifications worked. One of the best sources of information for finding examples of democratic innovation is Participedia, the largest online collection of examples, methods, and organizations related to participation.
The first way to deal with fragmentation is through regional bridging and cooperation efforts, with the longest history and greatest track record of success. Most of these efforts often rely on face-to-face pair or small group discussions with skilled facilitators or mediators. When people meet in this kind of environment where they have the opportunity to share their experiences and interact at a more human level, they are more likely to empathize with each other, find common ground, and understand the reasons for their disagreements. ..
Some of these practices are supported by ongoing dialogue programs such as Corrymeela in Northern Ireland, with thousands of participants annually. Local bridge skills are often disseminated through training and fellowship programs in a variety of locations, including East Africa and Israel. It is also used as part of youth camps, regular bridge construction social events, and as part of efforts to raise awareness of historical events. Regional bridge construction efforts are also connected and supported by national and international organizations such as the Sustained Dialogue Institute, Braver Angels and Listen First Coalition.
Many of these processes cite racism as a central factor in polarization and division. Others simply aim to provide a “safe place” for participants to deal with race, religion, politics, and other differences of all kinds.
A new wave of initiatives is using these practices as part of an online platform, enabling bridging on a national or international scale. Organizations like Solya were one of the first to pioneer this type of “virtual exchange.”
According to our survey, the majority of Americans (66%) are looking for a better way to understand people with different political views, and 2021 is active for this kind of initiative. It is promised to be a year. A national initiative called America Talks, backed by USA Today, Civic Health Project, ListenFirst Coalition, Public Agenda, and The Fulcrum, will involve thousands of people in one-on-one virtual discussions on June 12th and 13th. I am aiming for that. Participants will have the opportunity to answer a few short survey questions before pairing and talking to politically different people. America Talks is based on similar efforts in Europe such as My Country Talks.
Some online technologies use artificial intelligence to help people find common ground in policy questions. Polis, for example, is a platform that allows participants to vote on different statements, helping them use AI to identify opinion groups and then vote to create compromise statements that bring the opinion groups together. The platform is being used as part of the vTaiwan process, an initiative across Taiwan, with face-to-face workshops to prepare statements and action steps.
Whether the bridging focus is local, national or global, these efforts can reach their full potential if they can be combined with another type of democratic innovation. In short, it is a reform that increases the opportunities for community members to work together and contribute to public decision making and issues. -Solution. Eighty-four percent of Americans say that “giving the public a big say in life-threatening decisions” helps reduce polarization, and 83% “improve economic opportunities and security.” For all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or where they live. “
In some communities and countries, bridging can be incorporated into the formal governance process. One example is the Karnawak decision-making process used in the Mohawk community in Quebec, Canada. The other is the system of the Brazilian National Policy Council. It connects local debates on policy issues with state and then federal conferences in some sort of pyramidal structure. Local level participants select representatives to convey their ideas and concerns to a higher level of governance. Ireland uses a civic council authorized by the national legislature to address polarized issues. In many countries, governments have used Truth Commissions to build bridges and deal with past fraud.
Both local and scalable practices seem to be important in linking bridging and policy-making. Civil servants compromise with each other on controversial issues if voters are not willing to compromise. It is unlikely that you will. Efforts to bridge the region can establish a common foundation among members of the community, but with scalable practices to break the legislative impasse between state and federal officials. A system that aggregates the policy preferences of the participating people seems to be important.
The America Talks process seeks to connect regional and national efforts by giving participants the opportunity to participate in community bridging, deliberative and problem-solving efforts. In 2021, hundreds of initiatives in these regions will take place as part of National Conversation Week, organized by networks such as the National Issues Forums and many other organizations.
Americans want to overcome political polarization, and at least in 2021, community members and officials will have the opportunity to do so locally and nationally. Attracting and discussing many. To succeed in these efforts by breaking the legislative impasse on many issues, study how regional, scalable and structural solutions can support each other and democratic innovation. You need to appreciate what you can learn from. In other countries.
Matt Leighninger is the director of public involvement in Public Agenda, a non-profit, bipartisan research and involvement organization focused on strengthening democracy, building trust, and expanding economic opportunities. He wrote this article for The Fulcrum. This is a non-profit, bipartisan news platform that covers efforts to modify our governance system.
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