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Rutgers Law Journal



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deliberative democracy, Constitution, Federalist, direct democracy, popular sovereignty


Proposals for practical institutional reforms are notoriously absent from discussions about deliberative democracy. It is imperative to engage in the “nuts and bolts” debate of just what kinds of changes we discourse theorists or deliberative democrats want to effect. Here I would like to try to synthesize a reform proposal of my own based upon three major assumptions. Without argument, I assume a largely discourse-theoretic view of democracy that takes for granted the republican virtue of collective self-government as well as the Kantian claim that each citizen should be the author of his own laws. I further assume that our constitutional democracy attempts to approximate this virtue for its citizenry by aggregating preferences and sanctioning some rule by majority, all while checking people's preferences by enforcing some basic norms of equality. The last major assumption I make is that face-to-face interaction more closely embodies some democratic ideals than certain forms of representative bodies or virtual/electronic communication. I want to focus upon the dynamics of how better to approximate our approximation of democracy, not upon the teleological arguments for where we should end up in some utopian world or ranting about why we should end up there. I want to find a tweak, a tinkering, for our current system that would make it more generally desirable, making the three assumptions above with respect to what counts as desirable.

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