What I learned about democracy from Michael Neblo

USC’s Bedrosian Center has sponsored a nice series of Governance Salons, and this time out we had Michael Neblo, from Ohio State, in to discuss his experiments in deliberative democracy.

It was an absolutely wonderful discussion, and I learned a tremendous amount. Here is the deal:

The experiment consists of a control, obviously, and then running an e-town hall meeting with a member of congress. The subject: immigration policy. The team followed the participants from beginning to end and demonstrated that:

a) when subjects knew they were going to be participating in a controlled public debate–where civility was guaranteed–they studied up and learned more about the topic.

b) they stayed more involved politically even after a 4-month lag, being more able to identify mid-term election results after the event.