The Deliberative Society and the Paradox of Political Engagement

John Gaston

John Gaston

John Gaston is a former politics teacher based out of Brighton, UK, interested in the history of ideas and political thought.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Democracy is a flawed concept, Social Democracy and social institutionalism being its biggest flaws.Report

  2. Avatar aaron david says:

    First, thank you for a very interesting essay.

    As you brought it up, Brexit seems to be a… Turning point maybe? I am here in the states so don’t pay too much attention to the minutia of the whole situation. But I wonder if declining political participation is correlated to increased actions by the EU. All politics is local, as they say, and removing the local from politics might have caused such a discrepancy.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    There is some mixed evidence in the western states of the US, where citizen ballot initiatives are the rule rather than the exception, that such initiatives can drive voting rates up. Voter turnout in my state certainly goes up if there’s a controversial initiative on the ballot. My own anecdotal take is that it’s easier to get people excited about voting on a specific policy than about voting for representatives. Part of that is representatives are becoming ever more anonymous, and come with baggage, both personal and party. So you see examples like Arizona, until recently a deep red state, where the people voted to give Republicans overwhelming majorities in the state legislature, while simultaneously voting to take redistricting power from the legislature and to raise the minimum wage despite the opposition of those legislative majorities. The people favored certain policies supported by Democrats, but not the entire package that comes with voting for Democrats.

    I’m a supporter of initiatives at a state or local level. Not so much for setting national policy, particularly in a country as big (and diverse) in geography and population as the US. At least not without a significant super-majority requirement and national rules for handling elections.Report

  4. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    Voter turnout in America declined from 63.3% in 1952 to 49.0% in 1996. It has since bounced back to around 55%.

    When I read Robert Tombs, “The English and their History” last year, I believe he focused on changes bought by New Labour, such as the professionalization of politics, the neverending campaign, relying on wealthy campaign contributors rather than grass roots membership, centralization of public administration, and new norms for the Prime Minister. I’d have to go back and review the specifics, but other than a strikingly odd devolution of local power to some parts of the UK and not others (odd from an American p.o.v.), a lot of sounded like Americanization to me.Report

  5. Avatar j r says:

    Great post! It’s exciting to hear that this sort of purposeful education on politics can result in meaningful conversations about politics and policy. I wonder how well this replicated and scales. I would think that that it would do both fairly well. But I admit that I think this because I also think you have to have a lot of things go actively wrong to get to the dysfunctional political conversations that we have today.

    On the issue of less political engagement among the poor, I wonder how much of it can be attributed to the professionalization of social services and government administration. At one point, least in the United States, if you wanted a spot in public housing or a job in local government, you went to see someone from the political party that ran your neighborhood. At the very least you probably voted and maintained your party registration to make sure that some other party boss from some other place couldn’t actively harm your interests. That’s not really the case anymore, at least not in the same manner.Report

  6. Avatar atomickristin says:

    This is a great piece. I really enjoyed it – thanks for writing!Report