National Presidential Caucus    

Want to Scale Up Deliberative Democracy? Help Organize the National Presidential Caucus

Over the past four years, roughly five million Americans have used the Internet to organize tens of thousands of political Meetup’s, town halls and house parties. Now, with the country moving toward a de facto national presidential primary on February 5, 2008, a consortium of partisan, bipartisan and non-partisan groups (including NCDD) invited people to join them in organizing live, face-to-face meetings of the National Presidential Caucus on December 7, 2007.

Citizen-led and open, the goals of the National Presidential Caucus are to:

  • Help the country better prepare for the vital business of selecting its next president, not in haste, but through thousands of informed discussions and thoughtful deliberations.
  • Foster deeper and more meaningful access to the country’s political system, with the goal of helping revitalize American democracy.
  • Create a new voice for those willing to participate in person.

The National Presidential Caucus offers practitioners of dialogue and deliberation a unique opportunity to leverage the popular interest in the presidential election into potentially one of the widest experiences ever of deliberative democracy.

It’s easy for you to participate as an organizer. NationalCaucus.com will go live on June 19th. Local volunteer organizers can log on to the site to announce they will convene as either Republican, Democratic or open caucuses. The national caucus is open to all civic and political organizations on the condition that the meeting is publicly accessible.

Caucus registration by individuals opens on September 4th. A preliminary “straw poll” caucus on October 26 will test rules and allow for feedback and improvements before the national caucus on December 7.

Organizers will hold the caucus in two-hour meetings anytime between 3pm and 8pm local time. Organizers should allow participants time to mix and socialize, then formally convene. Next, the caucus proceeds to discussion. Participants may each speak to their most important issues, with the aim of selecting the top two or three issues of concern to the group. After a second round to express candidate preferences, the organizer will tabulate and post verifiable results on NationalCaucus.com.

An Advisory Council from across the political and civic spectrum will set minimal rules for timing, venues, eligibility, counting, reporting and to refine suggested meeting format issues like group size limits. Ideally, groups should be small enough to allow everyone an opportunity to speak. Caucus venues need to include Internet access for uploading results, use of optional recorded media, or to enable other communications and ad hoc reporting.

Meetup, FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, Evite and other web-based meeting & social organizing tools are encouraged for use and cross linking by Caucus organizers and participants to more easily involve pre-existing relationship networks. NationalCaucus.com will provide support services for organizer registration, searchable group listings, general notifications, exit polling and results-posting. Participants will also have opportunities to take part in groundbreaking political science experiments designed to test alternative preparation & voting methods.

National Presidential Caucus Project Partners

Planning

  • Howard Rheingold, Author, Smart Mobs
  • Mike Turk, E-Campaign Director, Bush ‘04
  • Phil Noble, Founder, Politics Online
  • James Fishkin, Director, Center for Deliberative Democracy
  • Don Means, Digital Village

Academic

  • Harvard University: Tom Patterson & Carol Darr
  • University of Virginia: Larry Sabato
  • University of Iowa: Peverill Squire
  • University of Texas: Robert Luskin

Endorsers

  • National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation
  • Unity08.org
  • TownHall.com
  • DemocracyForAmerica.com

For more information or to get involved, go to www.NationalCaucus.com. Also, see our August 22nd blog post about NPC for the latest news.

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