“The growing gap between the governed and their governments cannot be filled by our representative systems alone,” Kalypso Nicolaïdis writes in Noema this week. “What we need is a more continuous dynamic, a permanent commitment to democratic participation and deliberation bolstered by the digital revolution. … In some ways, the process of deepening the reach of democracy remains the same as it has been for the last 200 years: a struggle to expand the franchise. This time around, it’s a franchise that does not necessarily express itself through the right to vote in periodic elections, but rather through widespread inclusion in the political process in all its forms.”
If integrated into the system through new impartial mediating institutions such as citizens’ assemblies and deliberative digital platforms, she suggests, the same participatory power of social networks that has so polarized the body politic with alternative facts and hate speech can be harnessed to achieve a governing consensus. “Collective intelligence magnifies our understanding and capacity for social innovation. Inclusiveness buys intelligence,” writes Nicolaïdis. Taiwan has proven this in practice through its regular online citizen deliberations that set the governing agenda.