In a December 18, 2019 USA TODAY op-ed piece titled Americans still work together, despite political rancor, to resolve public challenges, contributors David Mathews and William V. Muse describe some efforts by members of the public who are using deliberative public forums, and National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) issue guides, to work together on difficult public problems.
From the op-ed:
Deliberation is as natural as talking to a neighbor over a backyard fence or around a kitchen table about tough decisions neighbors have to make. Deliberation emphasizes trying to understand another’s viewpoint and facing up to trade-offs. Rather than trying to win an argument, it is about making choices together by carefully weighing the downsides of any decision against the things each of us values deeply. That, in turn, helps reduce the division of Americans into warring political camps. And because deliberation tries to acknowledge the most basic things people prize that undergird many public issues — freedom, safety, economic security — the topics often expose what is important to each person, and what we hold in common as human beings...
NIF deliberations are an exercise in the basics of democracy; they foster public judgment, which should inform our voting. Americans want, and perhaps even need, to deliberate on issues with their fellow citizens and to engage in what Alexis de Tocqueville called “sincere sacrifices for the key common good.” It’s part of who we are as a nation, and thankfully, it is still alive.
Click here to read the op-ed piece.