A House Divided: Observations from Nationwide Deliberative Forums
Each year, it seems more difficult for our nation to face and resolve difficult issues. Leaders often avoid important questions altogether. Confi- dence in governing institutions has fallen. Many Americans see mainstream media as biased, while social media have become a sort of echo chamber where people reinforce their own fixed beliefs. And in many cases, people say they are reluctant even to speak to family members or neighbors about important issues on which they may disagree.
This summary captures the thinking of people from many walks of life who took the time to talk about their views and weigh their choices on this important issue.1 Although most convenors work hard to bring different seg- ments of their communities together, forum participants are not a random sample of the general public, so these findings should not be read as the result of formal opinion research. Rather, the public thinking reflected in these forums can provide an understanding of how people think when they wrestle with the trade-offs raised by suggested solutions to the most difficult public issues.