paper #2 - November 7 2011 POL 419Dr Danoff Paper#2 Many...

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November 7, 2011 POL 419—Dr. Danoff Paper #2 Many political scholars theorize that active participation in politics is encouraged by debate and deliberation among citizens. Yet, levels of political engagement and knowledge in the United States are seriously lacking, and measures needs to be taken to remedy the ignorance of the average American. Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin propose a “Deliberation Day” that would change the way elections are perceived, and force the media, activists, interest groups, lobbyists, and political parties to adapt to a more attentive public. I believe that Ackerman and Fishkin’s ideas of reinvigorating the access to public information are in keeping with Habermas’s theory of the public sphere, where all people have free access in engagement, are not judged upon status, and disregard notions based purely on private interests. Arguably, Ackerman and Fishkin would support most tenets of Habermas’s view, while wary of his criticisms posed by Nancy Fraser, most notably in her reproaches of participatory parity, social equality, and a single public. Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin propose a new idea for democratic reform in which “Deliberation Day” would replace President’s Day to educate the public prior to major national elections. Ackerman and Fishkin note that the general public’s political ignorance is growing; most people know very little about politics. They state in Righting the Ship of Democracy , “If Deliberation Day is established and a critical mass shows up to participate in the holiday, sophisticated politicians will no longer be so interested in monitoring the existing patterns of raw preferences. They will want to know about their constituents’ refined preferences: what the voters will think after they have engaged in discussion and reflection precipitated by 1
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Deliberation Day” (3). This idea, stressing ordinary citizens deliberating on public issues, can be compared to Habermas’s theory of the public sphere. Habermas looks to communication to provide a model for community; the use of “deliberation” in the public sphere as a “conceptual resource that can help overcome such problems. It designates a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk”. 1
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This note was uploaded on 03/26/2012 for the course POL 419 taught by Professor Danoff during the Fall '11 term at Miami University.

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paper #2 - November 7 2011 POL 419Dr Danoff Paper#2 Many...

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