Kettering Review Winter 2022

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This issue of the Kettering Review is devoted to a preposition: with. In contrast to its cousins—of, by, and forwith has been long neglected, especially in the connection between the people and their government. Here, we ask, How might democratic governance operate not just of, by, and for the people but with the people? In other words, What kind of relationship might government have with the people besides being made up of them, or authorized by them, or acting for them? How might the people and their elected officials work together toward their shared goals and ends? And how might they do this in a way that doesn’t flatten out differences and disagreements?

Cover Art: “Family of Dragonflies” (36" x 36") mixed medium by Seung Lee

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Editors’ Letter by Noëlle McAfee, Nicholas A. Felts  ( PDF )

A letter from the Review's editors Noëlle McAfee and Nicholas A. Felts.

Democracy for Us, Citizens by Christina Lafont  ( PDF )

Drawn from her book, Democracy Without Shortcuts, this piece by political theorist Cristina Lafont calls for a robust view of participatory democratic politics, not the kind of shortcuts offered by deliberative polling and other methods that skirt the need for all citizens to engage in a deliberative politics. What democracy needs, Lafont argues, is that “citizens … see themselves as participants in a democratic project of collective self-government to the extent that they can identify with the laws and policies to which they are subject and endorse them as their own.”

Antiestablishmentarianism Is Democratic by Nadia Urbinati  ( PDF )

A political theorist at Columbia University, Nadia Urbinati explores the paradoxes at the heart of democracy, which are both promising and threatening. While democracy’s distrust of the prevailing order makes it a truly liberating phenomenon, it can also give rise to populist regimes. “Authority, derived from the people and owned by nobody, is the democratic combination of two contradictory principles that populism wants to sever by assuming, ex ante, that they correspond to two antithetical groups: the few (the establishment) and the majority (the people).”

Collaborative Democracy by Daniel Kemmis  ( PDF )

Drawn from his latest book, Citizens United to Restore Our Democracy, former KF board member Daniel Kemmis explores the power of democratic deliberation to ward off the effects of privatized power and the limits of governmental power. “To put it bluntly, the problems that people have expected the government to solve have all too seldom been addressed in a problem-solving way. Rather than simply complain about this situation or resign themselves to it, increasing numbers of people have been stepping up, engaging their neighbors (especially those with whom they have had significant differences), and doing the problem solving themselves.”

Scientific Authority and the Democratic Narrative by Jason Blakely  ( PDF )

Pepperdine University professor Jason Blakely takes up the “with” question in connection with the relationship between the public and science. While Blakely worries about a lack of respect for scientific expertise, he also sees the need to temper technocratic overreach. “Democracy and science can be mutually reinforcing only if there is a recognition of the limited authority of each.”

Public Power for Resilient Cities: An Interview with Michael Menser by Noëlle McAfee  ( PDF )

A philosophy professor and a leader in the philosophy of the city movement, Michael Menser responds to our editor’s queries about how a philosophy of “with the people” motivates his public work. “Public power is not just about civic engagement. It is about public ownership and input into the management of the system.”

Citizens’ Participation in Formulating Health Policies Can Be a Game Changer by Shagufe Hossain  ( PDF )

Reporting from the streets of Bangladesh, Shagufe Hossain discusses how the benefits of citizen participation have helped alleviate public health crises in dengue fever, coronavirus, and ensuing mental health issues. Hossain takes up the central question of this issue of the Review: How can citizens and governments work with each other to solve pressing problems?

Using Citizen Democracy to Empower Institutional Democracy by David Mathews  ( PDF )

David Mathews’ article focuses on the troubled relationship between citizens and our governing institutions and explores how a strategy of working with the people might help make the relationship more constructive. Mathews builds on the piece he wrote for the Review in 2020, drawing attention to the disconnect between civic democracy and institutional democracy and highlighting what the foundation has learned about the importance of thinking of citizens as producers, not just consumers, of public goods.

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