Monday, September 28, 2009

Competing Images of Democracy

A comparison.

First, some images of recent "town hall" outbursts (photos from Charles Dharapak/AP Photo and Commercial Appeal/Landov):

. . . and one image of protests around the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh (photo from AP):

Now, some images of yesterday's World Wide Views project meeting in Atlanta:


Following the common method of the project, we brought together group of ordinary citizens from around the Atlanta area, and asked them to spend the entire day discussing in depth and then voting on complex and detailed questions about climate change and climate policy.

The group included hard-core climate skeptics and others who asked serious and pointed questions about the motives and methods of the meeting itself, as well as many who had no firm prior commitments on the issue, other than some general knowledge and some degree of concern.  All were welcomed, and all made themselves heard through the process.

Honest and civil discussion prevailed, as well as willingness to do the hard work of practical policy making: at the end of the day, each of the small groups in the room crafted a single recommendation for policy makers at the upcoming COP15 in Copenhagen, forging some sort of consensus out of their disparate views.  The lower two images show participants circulating around the room, considering the other groups' recommendations before casting votes for the three they favor.

(The complete results from the Atlanta meeting can be found here; they show interesting patterns of convergence and divergence, especially when compared to results from other nations or groups of nations.  Try comparing the Atlanta meeting with that in Mali, for example, or Annex-1 "developed" countries with low-income developing countries.)

Now, compare the two sets of images, the "town hall" and G20 protets versus the citizen consultation.  Both may reveal aspects of what democracy is.  But which should we hold up as the model of what democracy can be, and what it should be?

A few more images of WWViews events . . .

From Boston:

From Copenhagen:

And from New Delhi:

Pictures do not speak for themselves.  I understand that.

I'm just sayin' . . .


Doc Nagel said...

Why is that person in Copenhagen screaming like that? And those people in Boston were clearly staring each other down before drawing their knives.

Robert Kirkman said...

I showed this post to my six-year-old daughter this morning. Her comment?

"Your meeting was quiet."