Deliberation Day


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Bruce Ackerman and James S. Fishkin

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Two leading political thinkers offer an audacious proposal to energize the electoral process

Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin argue that Americans can revitalize their democracy and break the cycle of cynical media manipulation that is crippling public life. They propose a new national holiday—Deliberation Day—for each presidential election year. On this day people throughout the country will meet in public spaces and engage in structured debates about issues that divide the candidates in the upcoming presidential election.

Deliberation Day isa bold new proposal, but it builds on a host of smaller experiments. Over the past decade, Fishkin has initiated Deliberative Polling events in the United States and elsewhere that bring random and representative samples of voters together for discussion of key political issues. In these events, participants greatly increase their understanding of the issues and often change their minds on the best course of action.

Deliberation Day isnot merely a novel idea but a feasible reform. Ackerman and Fishkin consider the economic, organizational, and political questions raised by their proposal and explore its relationship to the larger ideals of liberal democracy.

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University. James S. Fishkin is Janet M. Peck Chair in International Communication and professor of political science at Stanford University, where he is also director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy. They have both published many books on the theory and practice of American democracy. This is their first collaboration.

"Deliberation Day is a highly imaginative effort [to glean-large scale strategies] for democratic reform from the cutting edge of democratic theory and practice. It has already provoked lively deliberation about deliberation from the journals and the blogosphere."—Archon Fung, Kennedy School Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

“Ackerman and Fishkin, two of America’s most thoughtful democracy scholars, argue powerfully for making democracy deliberative and deliberation democratic. Calling for a national holiday on which citizens might engage in deliberative practices, they offer a pragmatic and appealing case for a brand of deliberation that has gone missing in America’s media and polling circus that passes today for democracy.”—Benjamin Barber, author of Jihad v. McWorld

"Many people worry about sound-bite politics and citizen disengagement. Ackerman and Fishkin offer an imaginative and highly original proposal to address those problems. Filled with information and ideas, Deliberation Day will make intriguing and provocative reading for skeptics and enthusiasts alike. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the theory and practice of democracy."—Cass R. Sunstein, University of Chicago, Law School and Department of Political Science

“Ackerman’s and Fishkin’s Deliberation Day is a fascinating read. It stretches the imagination and suggests a better future than most think likely.”—Charles Fried, Harvard Law School

"This is a truly provocative book. It is an immensely interesting and stimulating thought experiment. Yet, as with Fishkin’s earlier work on deliberative polling, which began as an audacious thought experiment and has in fact become an important model of public decision-making, one can imagine their proposal’s being accepted and becoming equally important as part of the election process."—Sanford Levinson, University of Texas 

“A fresh and important book by ‘realist utopian’ authors [that] deserves serious consideration.”—Future Survey

"[This book is] lively, fast-moving, and concerned with a serious subject--restoring the health of American democracy; and it has a big idea about how to achieve it. . . . James Fishkin and Bruce Ackerman are two of our liveliest and most inventive political and legal thinkers."—Alan Ryan, New York Review of Books

"Deliberation Day is an interesting and provocative book, one sure to stimulate discussion in undergraduate classes about important issues. This book advances an important and timely agenda. For that, it deserves praise."—Adam J. Berinsky, MIT, Political Science Quarterly

"For many, Deliberation Day would be a bottle of Perrier in a political drought, a chance twice a decade to think seriously about the future of their country and their planet."—Johann Hari, The Independent (London)

ISBN: 9780300109641
Publication Date: September 1, 2005
198 pages, 6 x 9
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