What if the People Governed?
PUBLIC DEMOCRACY LA IS EXPLORING How Citizens’ Assemblies Can Restore Trust in LA City Government
Kickoff event: Friday, December 8, 2022 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time
How can government regain public trust, resolve tough policy issues, and de-escalate tensions between polarized citizens?
Inclusive decision making through democratic lottery
On December 8, 2022, Public Democracy LA sponsored it’s first event an interactive online introduction to citizens’ assemblies and how they can empower breakthroughs in local democracy. Co-hosted by the Berggruen Institute, Healthy Democracy, The American Public Trust, Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College, Abundant Housing LA, and Public Access Democracy, this 90-minute online teach-in brought together advocates and experts on democratic theory and governance to introduce how democratic lotteries and citizen deliberation works and their relevance to LA’s biggest political challenges. The video for this event is available below (Check out some short, background videos on citizens assemblies and deliberative democracy here, here, here, here, and here.)
In the coming months, we’ll be moving forward with projects to create a more responsive and inclusive democracy here in Los Angeles. Sign up below to stay in touch and learn how you can help.
HOW WELL IS OUR DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT WORKING?
Mostly it isn’t. We hold an election, with lots of campaigning, lots of press, lots of advertising, lots of name calling, lots of money, lots of promises. People vote, go home, and leave it to the elected officials until the next time round. Civic engagement in the form of public comment is usually limited to a minute or two per person. And civic panels and commissions are appointed and are not representative.
ORDINARY PEOPLE SHOULDN’T BE AT THE PERIPHERY OF DECISION MAKING. THEY BELONG AT THE CENTER.
A citizens’ assembly is a different kind of democratic process that brings together a group of everyday people to examine an important public issue. These are ordinary residents randomly selected but also reflective of the general public, in terms of age, gender, location, race, and other factors. They’re like a city in one room. These panels are professionally facilitated and follow a structured process to ensure fairness and productivity. They are designed to reduce the influence of political bias and instead put the focus on collaborative problem solving and evidence. Decades of academic research has shown that they handle complex policy questions effectively and fairly.
CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES HAVE LED TO SUCCESSFUL POLICY BREAKTHROUGHS
in Texas, Ireland and elsewhere around controversial topics such as transitioning to renewable energy and marriage equality. In Australia and Canada, democratic lotteries are used to help solve thorny policy issues around zoning and transportation. National climate assemblies have occurred in France, UK & Spain.