Without deliberation we don’t get public wisdom. Even in an individual, wisdom does not come from experience or teachings alone. How do we generate public wisdom with, by, and for a whole population?
The public is not just a bunch of isolated disengaged individuals. It is the people in the sense of Lincoln’s memorable phrase “a government of the people, by the people, for the people.” When I talk about public wisdom I mean that the public has latent wisdom that can be brought out and then spoken by its public voice — the voice of the people. People can and must empower their public wisdom to have real impact in the world.
How can we generate public
wisdom right at the grassroots, with people creating that capacity in their
communities whenever they want to? Can we get at least 80% of the quality of a
professionally organized face-to-face citizen deliberative council with far
less expense and effort — perhaps with smart use of the Internet?
revolution in decision-making that citizen deliberative councils offer us is of
comparable magnitude to the revolution in decision-making created centuries ago
by the idea of majority vote. It can be applied virtually anywhere, and it could
make all the difference in the world.