Hélène LandemoreJun 28, 2021
Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century
Princeton University Press 2020
Students of American history know that the framers of the Constitution were deeply concerned that the United States would founder on the shoals of mob rule. They designed a system meant to ensure rule by an elected elite, a republic rather than a democracy. While democratic elements have been introduced over the past two centuries, that basic structure still stands.
In Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century (Princeton UP, 2020), Landemore argues that it is time to create a more truly democratic system, one in which elections do not play a major role. While she thinks it unlikely that the national arena is necessarily the best place to start implementing such changes, she does see opportunities for creating local assemblies or “mini-publics” where citizens chosen by lot would deliberate on and enact policies and laws. She points out that hundreds of experiments in this direction have been initiated in the past two decades, and she lays down principles and approaches that make the likelihood of success greater. Her work is profoundly optimistic about the potential for citizens from all walks of life to participate in governing their society.
Jack Petranker, MA, JD, is the founder and Senior Teacher at the Center for Creative Inquiry and the Director of the Mangalam Research Center. www.jackpetranker.com.