National Civic Review Winter 2002 : Making Citizen Democracy Work (J-b Ncr Single Issue National Civic Review) 〈91〉


National Civic Review Winter 2002 : Making Citizen Democracy Work (J-b Ncr Single Issue National Civic Review) 〈91〉

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Full Description

With lessons learned from the national elections of 2000 and 2002, this issue focuses on the specific challenges and opportunities in political reform that lie ahead. Mark Schmitt, director of the Program on Governance and Public Policy of the Open Society Institute, argues that we are in the era of the fifty-fifty nation, with an electorate divided almost evenly between the two major parties, and elections decided by marginal voters along the dividing lines. Political scholar Thomas E. Patterson analyzes the downturn in voter turnout and proposed remedies to reverse this trend. The Center for Voting and Democracy provide several articles that focus on the relationships among incumbency, redistricting, and electoral competitiveness in making a case for substantive voting system reform. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer and Steve Brigham, from AmericaSpeaks, note the difficulties in conducting town hall deliverations in the mdern age and detail the facilitated dialogues they conducted among nearly five thousand New Yorkers about the future of Ground Zero. Leonard J. Duhl, M.D., one of the founders of the Healthy Cities/Healthy Communities movement, provides a fitting close with the remarks on community first delivered at a ceremony at the Pan American Health Organization, where he received the Abraham Horvitz Award in recognition of his important contributions to improving health in the Americas. With scholarship and voices from the field, this issue will provide inspiration and insight to the political reform community at large as we collectively take up the continuing work of improving our democracy.

Table of Contents

Christopher T Gates
The Politics of Reform in the Fifty-Fifty 305(12)
Mark Schmitt
The narrow division of the electorate
between two major political
parties is the outcome of five
interlocking elements of our political
system: the role of money in politics,
the broadcast monopoly on
campaign communications, the low level of
voter turnout, the effects
of redistricting on incumbency, and the
superficial malleability of the
political issues put forth by the
political parties. Political reform must
be directed at each of these five
elements if we are to succeed in opening
up our politics to new candidates, new
ideas, and new voters.
Behind Closed Doors: The Recurring Plague of 317(14)
and the Politics of Geography
Steven Hill
In Election 2002, 98 percent of House
incumbents seeking reelection
were returned to office. Only 39 of the
435 seats were competitively
contested, with a margin of victory of 10
points or less. In our single
member-district, winner-take-all voting
system, the decennial
redistricting process can have a
determinative influence on electoral
outcomes for years into the future.
Redistricting Reforms 331(4)
Eric C. Olson
A number of states have established a
means of safeguarding the public
interest within the redistricting
process. In addition to reviewing
the details of these procedures, this
article raises the question of
whether a full-representation voting
system should be part of such
New Means for Political Empowerment in the 335(16)
Asian Pacific
American Community
Steven Hill, Robert Richie
Full-representation voting methods can
increase the political
representation of racial minorities above
that which exists in the
current single-member district,
winner-take-all system. Examples from
New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles
indicate how the Asian
Pacific American community might benefit
from such voting methods.
Taking Democracy to Scale: Creating a Town
Hall Meeting
for the Twenty-First Century 351(16)
Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Steve Brigham
Information technology can be used to
make large-scale public
deliberations possible in a town hall
setting. Through a sophisticated
process design, citizens can deliberate
together about major public
issues and gain the attention of the news
media and public decision
makers. The recent Listening to the City
event in New York City,
which addressed rebuilding at Ground
Zero, illustrates how this
model can enhance citizens' voices in the
democratic process.
The Vanishing Voter: Why Are the Voting 367(12)
Booths So Empty?
Thomas E. Patterson
Voter turnout in presidential elections
has been trending downward
since 1960, with only 51 percent of the
country casting a vote in
2000. Under the auspices of the
Shorenstein Center at Harvard
University, the Vanishing Voter project
interviewed nearly one hundred
thousand voters during the 2000 election
to uncover some of the reasons
for this decline.
Healthy Municipalities: Now "It's the Only 379
Way to Go!"
Leonard J. Duhl, M.D.
This article, based on an address given
at the Pan American Health
Organization by one of the founders of
the Healthy Cities/Healthy
Communities movement, addresses the broad
concept of community
health in the Latin American context.