Lifelong activist Tom Atlee proposes innovative ways to distill the wisdom of ordinary people in order to better guide public policy. In Empowering Public Wisdom, Atlee recognizes currently popular forms of progressive democracy advocates, such as citizen participation and voter education, but suggests that what is really needed is a re-thinking of the very concept of democracy; Atlee advocates the use of "public wisdom," a collective intelligence that can be drawn upon to guide public policy and action. Reaching beyond partisan politics, Atlee explores how a diversity of views can be engaged around public issues in ways that generate a coherent, shared "voice of the people" that takes most or all of the population's perspectives and needs into account. Atlee's core approach is through "citizen deliberative councils," in which a small group of people randomly selected creates a "mini-public" or a microcosm of the larger population. Citizen councils engage in the study of a public issue and make recommendations to public officials and the community, but disband afterward; when a new issue arises, a new council is formed. Ultimately, Atlee aims even higher, suggesting a possible fourth branch of government to better balance our current democratic system. Combining a radical vision with practical solutions, Empowering Public Wisdom provides a unique and refreshing voice in the political arena.
Empowering Public Wisdom is part of the EVOLVER EDITIONS Manifesto Series.
About the Author
The author, the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, is one of the co-founders of the Earth Intelligence Network, created to offer public intelligence in the public interest. Together with Joe Trippi and others, he has devised a means for leveraging $5 to $20 contribution from tens of millions of voters as a means of creating a Public Trust that refuses to perpetuate the existing system that gerrymanders and shuts out all third party candidates while emphasizing a cult of personality and a war of cultures, instead of nurturing moderation and reconciliation around our common purpose: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every citizen and every legal immigrant. The author has lived an unusual and full life, with half of his 56 years abroad, as the son of an oil engineer, as a Marine Corps infantry officer, and as a clandestine case officer (spy handler) for the Central Intelligence Agency. As the senior civilian founder of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center (today a Command), he discovered that we are spending $60 billion a year on the 4% we can steal, and ignoring the other 96% in 183 languages we do not speak. Today the author serves voluntarily as intelligence officer to the public, and aspires to be intelligence officer to the poor, firm in his conviction that educating the five billion poor, free and one cell call at a time, is the fastest way--and the only way-- to create a prosperous world at peace.
“Tom Atlee helps us envision, in amazing detail, how we can shape democracy we believe in because we’re creating together.”—Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and EcoMind
“In this practical and visionary book, filled with concrete examples of what works, Tom Atlee shows us how we can harness our collective wisdom to discern the way forward in these complex and challenging times. Inspiring and highly recommended!”—William Ury, coauthor of Getting to Yes and author of The Third Side
“A wise and important development for the democracy movement.” —Hawaii state senator Les Ihara Jr., Senate majority policy leader
“At last someone has described the conditions under which ordinary people can generate real public wisdom. The implications for democracy—especially for democratic handling of our most troubling, complex, and urgent issues—are profound. I urge activists, academics, public officials, and every concerned citizen to heed the call in this book.”—Richard Sclove, author of Democracy and Technology
“Empowering Public Wisdom serves up a juicy antidote to today’s increasingly intractable issues, political gridlock, and public disengagement. Having used many of the practices Atlee outlines, I can attest to the viability and vitality of the vision he paints and the approaches he proposes on behalf of us all.”—Peggy Holman, consultant, author of Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity and coauthor of The Change Handbook
“In this book, Tom Atlee highlights the seldom-noted potential of dialogue and deliberation to generate true public wisdom. He explores how to increase that potential, how to embed it in our democracy, and how to empower it to make a real difference—an important contribution to our field and our political culture.”—Sandy Heierbacher, director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation