The past decade dramatized questions of popular participation in politics on a global stage—but with some irony. Just when millions of people look to America as inspiration for democracy, our own politics is a mess.
Problems facing America today require a level of public judgment and social change that can come only from widespread citizen involvement. Support for quality education; repair of our infrastructure; action on racial conflict, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and environmental degradation—all these seem unlikely to be addressed successfully by experts, professionals, or large-scale corporate or government systems alone....
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