ISSUE #10 – July / August 2022
NYT Story on Public Consultation Spreads Hope for Democracy
The New York Times’ Chief Washington Correspondent, Carl Hulse, recently wrote about our vision to make the public a greater force in our democracy, and the potential for public consultation to build trust in government and break through gridlock.
His story covered a groundbreaking study of more than 4,000 voters by our partners from the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland called “The Demand for Public Consultation,” which found Americans want policymakers to consult their constituents on policy decisions. Voters feel so strongly about this that more than four-in-ten voters said they are likely to cross party lines to vote for a candidate who makes a commitment to public consultation–even when an incumbent is named.
The study re-affirmed that the public believes there is a vast discrepancy between the will of the people and government action, which is fueling massive distrust in government. More than eight-in-ten Americans say there’s not an adequate system for the voice of the people to be heard in Congress. But… there are rays of hope!
- There is already a lot of bipartisan common ground among the American people. Our research has revealed more than 170 policy positions on which both majorities of Democrats and Republicans agree.
- We can now use new technologies and methods to consult the people, reveal common ground, and make the public a powerful force that can counter polarization and break through gridlock.
- There is a powerful desire from voters for policymakers to consult constituents.
At Voice of the People, we have a big vision: make the public a sustained presence at the policymaking table–in every state and congressional district. We have already conducted nearly a dozen public consultation surveys and events in congressional districts with Members of Congress participating and we are ramping up to do many more.
If you are interested in helping to bring public consultations to more states and districts, we would love to hear from you!(Contact: JP Thomas, Director of External Relations, email@example.com)
“How Do We Fix It” Podcast Features VOP and Public Consultation
If you are looking for a podcast to give you hope about democracy, we have just the thing for you. JP Thomas, our Director of External Relations, and Gail Hoffman, our longtime advisor, spoke with hosts Richard Davies and Jim Meigs about the vast distrust in government and our work to address it by systematically bringing the voice of the people into the policymaking process in Congress. Thank you to the “How Do We Fix It” podcast for showcasing our work.
Strong Bipartisan Majority Favors Funding for Mental Health Professionals to Respond to Mental Health-Related 911 Calls, Rather than Police
A recent PPC survey found that a large bipartisan majority of three-in-four voters favors the federal government funding local programs that give 911 operators the ability to first send mental health professionals and social workers to a mental health-related incident, rather than police officers. Support is robust across party affiliation (Republicans 59%, Democrats 92%, independents 75%) and congressional districts (very red districts 71%, very blue districts 81%). To learn more, check out the findings.
Mental Health Diversion
Put yourself in the shoes of policymakers by trying our policymaking simulation on how best to respond to people who are behaving strangely or committing a minor non-violent offense due to their having a mental illness, a mental disability, or a mental health crisis. In this simulation, you’ll get a briefing about the issue, learn the arguments for and against funding mental health diversion programs, and determine your recommendation. Once you finish the simulation, you’ll have a chance to send your recommendation to your Congresspeople.
VOP Spotlighted in Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress Hearing
At last week’s hearing of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, American Enterprise Institute’s Senior Fellow, Kevin R. Kosar, cited our public consultation work when discussing the public’s role in congressional policymaking.
Digital Social Innovation
Empowering Democracy in Taiwan
Taiwan, one of the world’s leaders in technology, is employing its digital expertise to improve its democracy. In 2012, “civic hackers” in the country set up their own online infrastructure to give citizens a greater voice in government. Rather than opposing these efforts, the Taiwanese government embraced them, leading to a government-run civic engagement platform, in which citizens can give real time feedback on societal problems and government policies.
Their platform is called Polis and has the look and feel of a social media site. Using new AI technology, it encourages citizens to post about their feelings on public policy and also see and reflect on the opinions of their friends, family, and neighbors. Taiwan’s experiment in digital democracy has found that a majority of citizens generally agree with their neighbors on policy fixes to societal problems. For a deeper dive, watch this TED Talk by Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister.