Public Agenda

How Our Elites Can Make Our Democracy Work Better

by Daniel Yankelovich

Monday, August 4th, 2014

If we are to dig ourselves out of the hole created by the shift away from democracy-friendly capitalism, our system of democracy must function at its best rather than at its present mediocre level.

What does this mean in practice? For sure it means that our political leaders and elites (as well as the public) must do things differently.

Our political leaders and elites must:

  • Define and clarify for the public the problems created by growing inequality.
  • Anticipate worse case scenarios, and do contingency planning for their possible occurrence.
  • Formulate a manageable range of options for voters to consider.
  • Draw out the likely consequences of these options in language understandable to the public.
  • Offer the public models of discussion based on dialogue and mutual respect as well as partisan debate.
  • Find ways to invite the public into the tent, and demonstrate that policy makers want and need input from non-expert average Americans.

In the next blog, Iíll address the role of the public in helping democracy work better.


Rebooting Democracy is a blog authored by Public Agenda co-founder Dan Yankelovich. While the views that Dan shares in his blog should not be interpreted as representing official Public Agenda positions, the purpose behind the blog and the spirit in which it is presented resonate powerfully with our values and the work that we do. To receive Rebooting Democracy in your inbox, subscribe here.




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