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The Next Form of Democracy

How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance -- and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same

Matt Leighninger

Publication Year: 2006

Beneath the national radar, the relationship between citizens and government is undergoing a dramatic shift. More than ever before, citizens are educated, skeptical, and capable of bringing the decision-making process to a sudden halt. Public officials and other leaders are tired of confrontation and desperate for resources. In order to address persistent challenges like education, race relations, crime prevention, land use planning, and economic development, communities have been forced to find new ways for people and public servants to work together.

The stories of civic experiments in this book can show us the realpolitik of deliberative democracy, and illustrate how the evolution of democracy is already reshaping politics.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

I never intended to write a book. But I found that, in the course of my work, I was being presented with some truly remarkable stories. I began to compile, interpret, and compare these narratives, because that helped me process what I was observing. Eventually, I realized that this was all one story: an account of political change in North America. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

In 1995, I learned firsthand about an idea that was stirring among public officials and community organizers across America. Shortly after O. J. Simpson’s acquittal, Los Angeles city officials convened “Days of Dialogue” to give people throughout the city an opportunity to share their views on the complex and intensely personal topic of race relations. ...

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Introduction: Things Your Mayor Never Told You: The Recent Transformation of Local Democracy

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pp. 1-22

It was an offhand comment, blurted out by someone in a crowd of people, and I was never able to figure out exactly who said it. The room was full of citizens and public officials; they were talking about why there was a lack of trust between the residents and local government of Lakewood, a small city just west of Denver. ...

I. The State of Democracy

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1. Good Citizens and Persistent Public Problems

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pp. 25-43

Most of what we hear about the state of citizenship today seems dismal and abstract. There is the persistently bad news about voter turnout and public mistrust of government. There are the constant reminders that young people in particular feel disconnected from public life. ...

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2. Is Everything Up to Date in Kansas City? Why "Citizen Involvement" May Soon Be Obsolete

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pp. 44-68

Dr. Ray Daniels knew all about the key role that parents play in student achievement. Daniels was the superintendent of schools in Kansas City, Kansas (KCK), an ethnically diverse, blue-collar city of 150,000 people that sits right across the river from Kansas City, Missouri. ...

II. Appeals to Citizenship

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3. Of Pigs and People: Sprawl, Gentrification, and the Future of Regions

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pp. 71-92

When Len Santini and his family moved into a nice new house in suburban Guilderland, New York, they knew what to expect. The street was next to one of the largest hog farms in the area. However, the Santinis loved the house and the location; the occasional whiff of manure from the pigpens only reminded them that they were fulfilling a longtime dream of living in the country. ...

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4. The Increasing Significance of Race in Public Life

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pp. 93-116

I am often involved in meetings where people are introducing themselves, describing where they grew up, and talking about where they live now. It has always surprised me that in these settings, no matter what kind of issue or decision you have put on the agenda, one subject always seems to come up: race. ...

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5. Washington Goes to Mr. Smith: The Changing Role of Citizens in Policy Development

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pp. 117-148

In the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, our innocent leading man, played by Jimmy Stewart, becomes a senator almost by accident. He has only one legislative priority: setting up a summer camp for boys in his home state. In order to accomplish his goal, and ensure that the voices of his constituents are heard, ...

III. Building Shared Governance

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6. The Strange Career of Chuck Ridley: Drug Abuse, Community Organizing, and "Government by Nonprofits"

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pp. 151-171

Chuck Ridley’s grandmother lived in Delray Beach when the only thing black folks could do there was harvest sugar cane. Every day, every black man and woman, fathers and mothers and uncles and cousins, went into those sugar cane fields to work all day under the hot sun. ...

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7. "Marrying" Schools and Communities: Endless Love or Affair to Remember?

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pp. 172-194

Kelly Butler is frustrated. As the executive director of Parents for Public Schools (PPS), she spent ten years helping citizens and educators work together to improve their schools. She helped build the first PPS chapter in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew it into a national alliance that now spans twenty-six states. ...

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8. Sharing the Buck: Communities Rethink Public Finances and Public Responsibilities

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pp. 195-224

Judging by the opinion polls, you would never guess that the residents of Lakewood, Colorado, are questioning the role of government in the modern world. Surveys show that they are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about their elected representatives and city employees. ...

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Conclusion-Things to Come

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pp. 225-250

In the last ten years, I have found myself in the same situation over and over again. The recurring scene is a planning meeting: the people in the room are talking about how to mobilize citizens around a key issue in their community. The composition of the group varies from place to place, but it is usually a mix of public officials, long-time volunteers, ...


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pp. 251-280


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pp. 281-296

E-ISBN-13: 9780826592194
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826515407

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2006