Lawrence Lessig on deliberative polls

In this interesting and entertaining August 2017 TED Talk, Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard law professor, shows an appreciation for some of what is wrong with decision-making by popular vote in contemporary societies, and for some of the political significance of deliberative polls.

… the answer is not to reject democracy. The answer is to find a way for democracy to represent us better. To give up the idea that when we talk about “we” as in “we the people” we’re talking about what we happen to think now, and replace that idea with a conception of “we” where what we mean is what we think when we are informed and [have] deliberated.

He then indicates deliberative polls provide a “we the people” of the kind he describes, and discusses, in glowing terms, the 800 member deliberative poll in Mongolia on the constitution (at which he was an observer).  He does not (in this video) suggest any actual democratic reforms for the U.S.

One Response

  1. It’s interesting that the greatest progress in deliberative polling has been in communist or former communist countries. The great thing about the Mongolian example is that deliberative polling is now required by law in any constitutional amendment, the sample was large (800) and participation rates very high (96% of those sampled completed the initial interview, and 85% of those invited actually attended).

    How to make progress in longstanding liberal democracies is a greater challenge, perhaps the West will end up emulating the East.

    Liked by 1 person

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