Why Practical Democracy Works

Practical Democracy gives the people a way to select Mansbridge's "wisest, cleverest, most virtuous, and most experienced citizens". At each level, voters deliberate in small groups, where "... face-to-face contact increases the perception of likeness, encourages decision making by consensus, and perhaps even enhances equality of status." 1

Academic studies have shown the value of deliberation in small groups. The PD process builds on these phenomena. It lets people with differing views deliberate and seek consensus on political issues. When triad members are selected to advance, those selected are the individuals the group believes best represent its perspectives. This necessarily adds a bias toward the common interest.

PD works because it atomizes the electorate into thousands, or, in larger communities, millions of very small groups. Each provides a slight bias toward the common interest. As the levels advance, the cumulative effect of this small bias overwhelms special interests seeking their private gain. It leads, inexorably, to the selection of representatives who advocate the will of the community.

  • 1. Beyond Adversary Democracy, Jane J. Mansbridge, The University of Chicago Press, 1980 p. 33