Op-Eds About Edwards Proposal    

On Saturday, October 13th, Senator and Presidential Candidate John Edwards gave a speech in Keene, New Hampshire that could have a major impact on our field. In his speech, he called for the creation of “Citizen Congresses” that would regularly convene one million Americans in national deliberations on critical policy issues. These congresses are part of his One Democracy Initiative, which references AmericaSpeaks’ and Study Circles’ work, as well as Deliberation Day and the newly-formed November 5th Coalition. Here is an excerpt from the speech:

“I believe in the wisdom of the American people, and I think the more power they have in our democracy, the better our country will be. That’s why every two years, I will ask one million citizens to come together to tackle our toughest issues in local forums across the nation. These Citizen Congresses will combine old-fashioned town halls with 21st century technology. They will give regular Americans a chance to speak to each other, and to their elected officials in Washington, without the filters of interest groups and the media. Like so much of what Washington needs, this idea of grassroots democracy is already working out in the real world, in towns just like this one.”

AmericaSpeaks’ Joe Goldman was contacted weeks earlier by the Edwards campaign about this, and Joe gave me (Sandy Heierbacher) and a number of other leaders in the field a heads-up on the speech. Joe encouraged us to submit letters to the editors of our local papers, and provided some helpful background information, ideas and tips to help us get started. The purpose of the op-eds is not to support Edwards or his specific public engagement plan, but to raise awareness of the importance of public engagement and the fact that it is already happening across the country – and to encourage the other candidates to go beyond rhetoric and propose their own concrete solutions for bringing the public back into politics.

I contacted some NCDD members who I felt would be able to quickly write op-eds, and I’m collecting their op-eds and those of others Joe contacted so we can display and/or link to them in one place. I also want to strongly encourage everyone else in the D&D community to consider submitting op-eds to your local papers.

This is a great opportunity for people in the D&D community to join forces to raise awareness about the need to for the public to have a greater voice in the governance process. As a community, we need to figure out how to respond quickly and collectively when things happen that can raise awareness of D&D – whether they be crises, conflicts or high-level PR opportunities like this one. Perhaps this effort can set a precedent for us to accomplish this. Here is what we have so far…


Blog Posts, etc.

Tips and Templates

And for those of you interesting in writing letters to your editors, here are some helpful documents (from AmericaSpeaks’ Joe Goldman and the Kettering Foundation’s David Mathews)…

Here’s What Our First Commenter Had To Add…

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  1. Comment added by Dan Euliss, Vancouver, WA on October 15, 2007:

    We here in Vancouver have a small but vocal group attempting to create community dialouge. We started in 1995, but have not had the wide support we would like. We seem to gather individuals of a like mind which makes it hard to have dialouge. Because of these short comings we have attracted smaller and smaller groups of people. We are currently working with our local Leadership training organization, to see if there is a better way to involve the entire community. We believe Senator Edwards has a good approach to creating a national dialouge. It is needed because most of our elected representives lose touch with the people once they breathe the rarified air of Washington DC.

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