Do you live in Oregon? Do you have friends, associations, networks in Oregon? If you do, I’m urging you to spread the word on one of the most important developments toward a wiser democracy in the US.
Although most Oregonians don’t know it — and you and I are going to change that — Oregon just held the first citizen deliberative councils ever to be officially authorized by a government in the US. Oregonians live in the first state to officially bring the “voice of the whole” — a legitimate, deliberative voice of We the People, above and beyond partisan debate — into public discourse, into the homes of voters, and into the official business of government.
Here’s what happened: Two “Citizen Initiative Reviews” — panels of randomly selected ordinary Oregonian voters — have passed “informed public judgment” on two ballot initiatives Oregonians will be voting on this November. Authorized by the state legislature and the governor, their thorough study, expert interviews, and deliberations have clarified the issues and facts so Oregon’s voters can more intelligently decide how to vote, to reflect their highest values. These ordinary citizens have cut right through the partisan noise and TV ads that muddy up the initiative process.
This innovation could revolutionize elections. The initiative form of direct democracy could once again become a tool of the popular will. Broader use of the Citizen Initiative Review process could overcome special interests bent on turning popular will against the common good.
The only thing needed now to turn this budding breakthrough into a full-fledged transformation is for Oregonians to read, think about, and talk about the Citizen Initiative Review statements in Oregon’s Voter Information Booklets (see the links below). So we need to tell all our friends and associates in Oregon to do that. If enough people see these statements — and realize how incredibly valuable they are compared to the repetitive, manipulative partisan spin and mudslinging that usually fill the airwaves and Voter Information Booklets — they will demand more of this kind of We the People voice in more aspects of our political life and governance.
I want to stress how important this is: This initiative goes beyond surveys, because it is deliberative and it reveals common understandings, not just individual opinions. If this spreads, we’ll find ourselves on a really different political playing field, with new rules of play. This is a potential game changer. We have a chance to make a difference with it RIGHT NOW, during this one month before elections.
Please do what you can.
Below is a message I received from Healthy Democracy Oregon who spearheaded this remarkable innovation:
Dear Healthy Democracy Supporter:
Here at Healthy Democracy Oregon, our excitement is mounting as the election draws near. Why? Because Oregon just pioneered a big ‘first’ for democracy in the U.S.! And you have the opportunity to be involved.
Last month, we convened two Citizens’ Initiative Reviews (CIRs): nonpartisan, fair and balanced evaluations of ballot measures. You can find the results of the Reviews of Measure 73 (Mandatory Minimums) and Measure 74 (Medical Marijuana Dispensaries) at http://healthydemocracyoregon.org/.
We want your help in getting the word out to fellow voters about this powerful new tool: please share the results of the reviews of Measure 73 and Measure 74 with friends and colleagues. You can also look at the CIR process in-depth though our online archive of the two Reviews at http://cirarchive.org/.
The Citizens’ Initiative review is an innovative reform to the initiative process that brings together 24 randomly selected, demographically balanced panels of Oregon voters to fairly evaluate ballot measures over 5 full days. What you might not know is the 2010 Citizens’ Initiative Review is the first time real citizen deliberation is directly connected to the election.
Last year, we helped pass legislation which puts the results of the CIR, The Citizens’ Statements, in a prominent new place in the Voters’ Pamphlet.
Voters need to know about this important new resource.
Our initiative process is often short on deliberation and well reasoned facts. We’re working to change that with the Citizens’ Initiative Review. Since this is the first time voters will have access to the information from the Citizens’ Initiative Review in their Voters’ Pamphlet, it’s important that everyone who supports the CIR pitch in by helping to spread the word to their friends and colleagues. Voters will use the CIR if they know about it! I’m writing you today to ask for your help getting the word out.
Again, Here’s how you can help today!
• Send this email to your friends and colleagues.
• Join Healthy Democracy Oregon on
• Sign up at Healthy Democracy Oregon’s website
to volunteer to write a letter to your local paper,
volunteer, or make a donation
As part of a one-time ‘pilot’ adopted into law by the 2009 Legislature, we need to prove that the CIR is a valuable new public service. To that end, we’ve already had a lot of success! The Reviews received great media coverage and editorial support. Now we need to get the word out to our fellow voters—and we need your help to do so!
Healthy Democracy Oregon’s staff is available and happy to provide any support you may need to help get the word out about the CIR.
Together we can really improve our politics by improving the way we ‘do’ democracy. Thank you again for your support!
Healthy Democracy Oregon
PO Box 42347
Portland, OR 97242