Roadmap

What's a Citizens' Assembly?

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A Citizens' Assembly is a democratic process for finding agreement about how we want to live together. It's really that simple.

Check out this video from ChangePolitics

Citizens’ Assemblies use democratic lotteries to bring together a broad mix of everyday Americans to solve problems. They provide the group ample time, knowledge, and assistance to dive deep into an issue and find common ground on solutions. It’s a true democratic process, one that values the input of everyday citizens and makes sure their voices are heard. Together, we’ll rock the world with our collective wisdom!

Why do we need them?

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Here's the bottom line: It’s time for everyday Americans to have a bigger say in how we run our lives. Partisan politics is poisoning our country. Citizens’ Assemblies are the medicine we must prescribe—a bold, powerful, dynamic way to turn things around.

Check out this video from Democracy Creative

The founders of the United States believed that self-government is an ongoing experiment. Each generation is called to make our country more free, fair, and prosperous. If we see problems, we should fix them—just as they did. The framers diagnosed deep issues with America’s first form of government and set out to rectify them. The Constitution was adopted “in order to form a more perfect union.” Americans have continued this tradition ever since, using our ingenuity to innovate, iterate, and improve the republic. 

We must tap that creative heritage again, cure today’s political pathologies, and achieve democracy in our time. Citizens’ Assemblies put diverse groups of Americans at the heart of decision-making, creating an environment where everyday people can come together, get informed, and forge agreement on the issues that matter most. It’s all about restoring power to the people!

For a deeper dive, read Healthy Democracy’s quick guide to Citizens’ Assemblies.

DO THEY WORK?

Absolutely! There’ve been hundreds of Citizens’ Assemblies around the world.

Check out this video from The Economist

Citizens’ Assemblies are succeeding around the world because they bring democracy to life in the best possible way. They’ve tackled complex problems like climate change in France; urban development in Toronto; and city budgeting in Melbourne. Between 1986 and 2019, hundreds of Citizens’ Assemblies or similar bodies have taken place around the world. That number is rapidly increasing, as governments discover the wealth of benefits they provide. In fact, since 2004, there’ve been so many Citizens’ Assemblies that the OECD calls it the “deliberative wave.” 

CHECK OUT THESE CASE STUDIES

Established in 2016, the Irish Citizens’ Assembly is a recurring deliberative body of 99 citizens selected by lot who have provided recommendations to the Irish Parliament and spearheaded constitutional changes on a range of topics.

In October 2021, Paris became the first major city to establish a permanent Citizens’ Assembly, consisting of 100 Parisians picked by lot with the power to draft local laws; set the topics for the budget; and put one issue on the city council’s agenda each year.

In 2022, the California city of Petaluma chose 36 residents
by lottery to form a deliberative body, which worked together to produce three reports
offering recommendations on the future of a 55-acre fairgrounds property.

6 Values of Democracy by Assembly

Liberty

Justice

Humanity

Unity

Integrity

Common Good

10 Traits of Citizens’ Assemblies

Clear Purpose

Influence & Accountability

Transparency & Integrity

Democratic lottery

Representative & Inclusive

Adequate Time

Diverse Information

Dialogue & Deliberation

FREEDom & Independence

PRIVACY & EVALUATION

Want to Hold a Citizens’ Assembly?

If you’re interested in holding a Citizens’ Assembly, check out these guides. You can also watch Why & How to Organize Climate Citizens’ Assemblies at the Sortition Academy.

Digital Participation Platforms enhance the assembly process. For more, check out the reviews at People Powered.

Dive Deeper!

Democracy by Assembly is spreading. Read, watch, listen!

FAQ

What happens during a Citizens’ Assembly?

Here’s the breakdown:


1. The commissioning authority—e.g., a government entity or private organization—picks an issue for an assembly to address and gives it a mandate.


2. Everyday people —who are willing and able to serve— are chosen by democratic lottery to represent a broad mix of backgrounds and perspectives on the issue.


3. A wide array of experts, stakeholders, and those most affected by the issue share their insights, bringing in diverse viewpoints and proposals.


4. Members discuss what they’ve learned, listening to each other and providing reasons for their thinking.


5. Finally, they come to an agreement on the best way forward.

Want to learn more? Check out this deeper dive from our friends in the UK. You can also watch the video “What Is Sortition?” at the Sortition Academy.

What are the benefits?

Lots! But the most important is that Democracy by Assembly works: it finds long-term solutions to intractable problems. And the best part is, the process improves itself over time, through more and more assemblies. In doing so, it makes society more safe, prosperous, and free—it was this form of democracy, in fact, that caused ancient Athens to experience an economic and cultural boom.

Citizens’ Assemblies rock because they:
1. Build unity among diverse groups of citizens;
2. Safeguard the liberty and freedoms of We the People;
3. Grow humanity and compassion in our communities;
4. Increase integrity and transparency in government;
5. Establish justice and make our society more fair;
6. Celebrate our nation’s character and honor our shared values.

 

For a deeper dive, check out these advantages from our friends at Healthy Democracy. You can also watch the video “Lessons From the Irish Citizens Assembly” at the Sortition Academy.

Who provides the information to a Citizens’ Assembly?

A wide range of experts presents to the assembly, as well as stakeholders and others most affected by the issue. But experts are on tap—not on top. The citizens are the ones who ultimately make the call, and the assembly can invite additional experts if they wish. It’s like the ultimate knowledge-sharing potluck, where everyone gets a say in the final course!

Believe it or not, Citizens’ Assemblies actually make smarter decisions than panels of experts. That’s because they combine the common sense and diverse perspectives of everyday people with the knowledge of specialists and other important voices, (who are selected by a fair and independent process).

 

This wide array of input includes scholars, stakeholders, and people from the community directly affected by the issue at hand. The members of the assembly also have the power to bring in more presenters, if they want. It’s essential that they keep ownership over the process, and consider a diverse range of perspectives.

 

Here’s the thing: experts are there to provide knowledge and insights, but they don’t have the final say. The citizens take all that information and make the decisions themselves. And there’s more. Helping members think critically and be aware of any biases—whether conscious or unconscious—is also important, which is where facilitators come in. It’s all about making sure everyone approaches the discussions with an open mind!

 

For a deeper dive, read this article on collective intelligence in Citizens’ Assemblies by Hélène Landemore.

What’s a democratic lottery?

A democratic lottery is a fair method for selecting a group of everyday people that mirrors the makeup of the population. It’s like a cosmic blender of equality!

In a democratic lottery, we level the playing field to create a diverse assembly of representatives. Through open technology, anywhere from 40 to 100 citizens are selected who are willing and able to serve a short time.

 

As our friends say at Of By For*, “The process uses proven polling techniques and three rounds of selection to ensure accurate representation across age, gender, geography, income, and race, and political leaning.”

 

The result is a group that’s a mix of backgrounds, ages, levels of education, and place of residence. It’s all about capturing the true essence of our community—assembling a dream team for democracy!

 

For a deeper dive, read this article on democratic lotteries from Nature.

How are decisions made within a Citizens’ Assembly?

Inside Citizens’ Assemblies, vibrant discussions take place—with facilitators on hand to help—as participants seek consensus on recommendations. Every voice gets a chance to shine, creating a harmonious dance towards smart and inclusive solutions!

Consensus is a key aspect of Citizens’ Assemblies. It refers to a shared understanding among the participants on the recommendations they put forward. Achieving consensus does not mean that every single person needs to agree on every detail, as that would be impractical in large groups. Instead, it means finding a broad agreement that most participants can support.

 

Consensus is often reached through a process of respectful dialogue and open-mindedness. Participants listen actively to each other, considering various viewpoints and evidence. Facilitators play a crucial role in guiding the discussions and ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak. This encourages the exploration of ideas and fosters a constructive environment.

 

Dissenting voices and minority views are also an essential part of citizens’ assemblies. In fact, they’re encouraged to share their perspectives and concerns openly. Participants with different understandings play a vital role in challenging assumptions, asking critical questions, and highlighting potential blind spots in the proposed solutions.

 

Even if complete consensus is not reached, the goal is to identify areas of agreement and common values among the participants. It’s not about winners and losers; instead, the focus is on finding solutions that work for as many people as possible. Minority views are recorded and respected, ensuring that diverse opinions are taken into account.

 

For a deeper dive, read this article on deliberation by scholar Lyn Carson.

Are the recommendations of a Citizens’ Assembly binding?

It all depends on the design of the process and the support of the people—that’s where the real magic happens! In some places, the assembly’s recommendations amount to wise suggestions. Other times they’re stronger, holding real sway and sparking policy changes. When it comes to officially-sanctioned assemblies, government must respond to the recommendations and make such answers public.

The binding nature of Citizens’ Assembly recommendations is often determined by the political will of decision-makers, public support, and the specific rules and procedures submitted established for the assembly’s operation. In some cases, recommendations may be considered advisory, meaning that they serve as proposals to policymakers but do not have the force of law.

 

In other cases, recommendations carry significant weight and influence policy decisions. For instance, some governments or institutions may commit to implementing the recommendations if they meet specific criteria, such as a broad consensus among the assembly participants or public support. In such cases, recommendations can lead directly to legislative changes or policy reforms.

 

In and of itself, a Citizens’ Assembly is a powerful force for improving public policy. Clarifying the will of the people—through informed deliberation—can build momentum for smart ideas and effective laws. These are changes we can trust because they come from everyday Americans like us, not from partisan think-tanks, special-interest groups, or corporate lobbyists.

Can Citizens’ Assemblies be implemented at different levels of government?

Absolutely! Citizens’ Assemblies are flexible and can work wonders at different levels of government. From local communities to the national stage, these innovative gatherings empower everyday people to shape policies and decisions. Whether it’s fixing neighborhood issues or tackling global challenges, Citizens’ Assemblies are a powerhouse for positive change!

Citizens’ Assemblies can be effectively utilized at various levels of government to address diverse issues and engage with the public in decision-making processes. They can go beyond government, too:

 

1. Local Level: At the local level, Citizens’ Assemblies can be convened to tackle community-specific challenges and opportunities. For instance, a municipality might form a citizens’ assembly to address urban planning, transportation, or environmental issues. The assembly members, representing a cross-section of the local population, deliberate on the topic at hand and provide recommendations to the local government. This participatory approach ensures that community members’ voices are heard and integrated into policy decisions.

 

2. Regional/State Level: Citizens’ Assemblies can be extended to cover regional or state-level concerns. For instance, a state government might establish a Citizens’ Assembly to address matters such as healthcare reform, education policies, or regional development. By bringing together citizens from different areas and backgrounds, the assembly can explore region-specific challenges and formulate well-informed recommendations that resonate with the diverse communities they represent.

 

3. National Level: At the national level, Citizens’ Assemblies can play a pivotal role in addressing complex, contentious, or long-term issues that impact the entire country. Topics like climate change, constitutional reform, or healthcare systems are examples of matters that Citizens’ Assemblies can effectively tackle. These assemblies, comprising citizens selected randomly or through stratified sampling, are empowered to deliberate on national issues and propose solutions, fostering a sense of collective ownership over important decisions. 

 

For a deeper dive, read this paper on how Citizens’ Assemblies could be implemented across government by Terry Bouricius. You can also watch the videos “Representing the Future Through Sortition;” “The Preferendum: When Sortition Hits the Masses;” and “Institutionalizing Sortition” at the Sortition Academy.

What if “bad” or “stupid” people get selected?

Believe it or not, most everyday people are actually pretty darn decent and reasonable. And if a bad apple somehow gets in the group, there are guardrails to deal with it. Those who’ve served in assemblies come away with an overwhelmingly positive impression!

Look, we get it—you don’t want your neighbor, who can’t figure out recycling, to have a say in budgeting for the whole city. And social media brings out the worst in us.

 

But don’t worry! Citizens’ Assemblies have proven time and time again that everyday people—when given respect, responsibility, and an opportunity to encounter each other as human beings—-become passionate about what’s best for everyone. Plus, they have to be willing to hear other people’s views, even if they don’t always agree.

 

Moreover, assembly members are supported in their service by professional staff. And even if somebody doesn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, the way the assembly’s designed (with facilitated conversations and consensus building) means everyone has a chance to learn from others and share their thoughts. You’d be surprised: insight and thoughtfulness come from all sorts of people!

 

For a deeper dive, check out this short documentary with members of the Irish Citizens’ Assembly from 2017.

Why have I never heard of this?

Citizens’ Assemblies, once a common part of democracy going back over 2,500 years, are being revived around the world. We’re a bit behind in the USA, but the vast majority of Americans want to give them a try. The best part is that assemblies are supported equal number of people from the left, right and center.

Democracy by Assembly used to be practiced all over the world, from Classical Greece through Renaissance Europe. China, India, and Southeast Asia used democratic lotteries for generations. They even show up in the Bible!

 

But around the late 18th-century, they were lost. This was due to changes in political ideas at the time, and, more importantly, the fallout from various revolutions. Today, they’re being recovered to use for all sorts of decision making. At Assemble America, our mission is to make sure every American learns about Democracy by Assembly—and fast!

 

For a deeper dive into the history, you can read this description of Athens and this post by our teammate Nick. You can also watch the videos “Greek Democracy and “The Story of Sortition” at the Sortition Academy.

How is this different from the civilian commissions and public comment meetings we already have?

Tired of boring public-comment meetings where you get two minutes to speak your mind, while listening to rants and raves from cranks? Citizens’ Assemblies are a breakthrough for citizen engagement, leaving civilian commissions and public-comment meetings in the dust. They select diverse participants and empower everyday people to make meaningful decisions. They’re the ultimate VIP experience for civic involvement!

Citizens’ Assemblies are a whole new level of citizen engagement. Unlike civilian commissions, which are often appointed by officials and may not fairly represent the diversity of the population, Citizens’ Assemblies select participants through democratic lotteries, giving everyday people a chance to have their voices heard. 

 

And unlike meetings with uninformed members of the public or hand-picked consultants—who push the agenda of powerful lobbyists and special interests—Citizens’ Assemblies prioritize informed deliberation. They provide participants with the time and resources to dive deep into complex issues and consider different perspectives.

 

Plus, Citizens’ Assemblies boast greater legitimacy than panels of insiders or free-for-all public meetings. So if you’re looking for a bold yet proven way to improve public engagement, Citizens’ Assemblies are where it’s at!

But don’t we need “professionals” to represent us?

Politics is really about how we want to live together. And the people best suited to make those decisions are citizens just like us—everyday Americans who harbor the same hopes, dreams, and concerns that we do. We don’t necessarily need to get rid of career politicians, but everyday people need a voice—Citizens’ Assemblies are it.

Some politicians do great things. Others, not so much. Many are decent people who mean well, but too often the system forces them to betray their ethics and put power over principles. Though they may start out honest, they face  tremendous pressure to assent to activist groups, chase the press, and toe the party line. They can get tangled up in greed and the never-ending election cycle, forgetting what really matters—the people.

 

But the real issue is this: the system produces so-called representatives who don’t actually represent us. Elected politicians don’t look, think, or talk like everyday Americans. They tend to be rich, old, and lawyers—the vast majority of us are none of these. And once they get in office, they easily lose touch with the everyday people they’re supposed to serve. 

 

That’s a problem, because, in the end, political decisions come down to principles, priorities, and values. What is a good society? How should we spend our hard-earned tax dollars? What kind of future do we want for our children? There’s just one school that answers those questions: the school of life. And that’s a school we’ve all attended. It’s time to make sure that legislative bodies actually represent the people, and that their decisions reflect our will.

 

For more, check out this podcast episode with former politician Terry Bouricius.

What's wrong with partisan politics?

A lot. But it boils down to three main problems:

 

● First, the corporate duopoly has bred toxic tribalism. This polarization in turn has produced gilded governing, gridlock nation, and a corruptocracy.


● Secondly, elections have collapsed into chaos campaigns, offering nothing but choice mirage, spin-cycle spectacle, and a circus of charades.


● Finally, the system leads to dynasty dominance, in which career politicians treat public offices like personal possessions, often selling them to the highest bidder.
These establishment elites don’t look, talk, or think like everyday people—and they certainly don’t work for us.

In today’s political landscape, factional fanaticism is driving America insane. Political parties, once champions of everyday people, are now bloated and bought off by special interests. Worst of all, they’ve become ends to themselves: they seek to maintain their grip on power and keep their donors happy above all. To do so, they divide Americans into opposing tribes and gin up hatred between us. Because of the party system, officials must demonize their opponents as stupid or evil, even if the other side does something good.

 

Like parties, campaigns have become a never-ending circus, offering beleaguered citizens the “choice” between two prepackaged teams of elites. What used to be the voice of the people has deteriorated into an electoral extravaganza. Campaigns today are just reality TV shows, winner-take-all-wars where fast-talking, slick-looking competitors savage their enemies, kowtow to big wigs, and make self-promotional media appearances. And that’s not to mention gerrymandering, dark money, and rigged rules.

 

These perverse incentives continue once politicians take office. Instead of working together to solve problems, they have to attack each other to score points. The political environment rewards them for pulling stunts, not doing their job. Meanwhile, in order to win re-election, they’re frequently compelled to vote for what’s expedient, instead of what’s in the best interests of the people. And all too often, they’re beholden to lobbyists, and big donors because they need money for more campaigns. Once they taste power, they can become entrenched insiders, opening themselves to corruption and growing aloof from the needs of everyday people But what about actually taking the time to understand what we want? Or find common ground? Or talk about what’s good for the country? That’s where the ball gets dropped. It doesn’t have to be this way. Citizens’ Assemblies can help.

 

For more, check out The Trouble With Elections, by our friend Terry Bouricius.

Wait, what about elections?

Democracy means collective decisions are made by everyday people, not elites. And to guarantee that, you need democratic lotteries to choose representatives. Again, we don’t necessarily have to do away with elected politicians, but Citizens’ Assemblies are a proven way to fortify our democracy.

Once upon a time, elections were popular events that everyone joined in. Today, they’re tired, highly symbolic affairs and participation has plummeted. Some 80 million eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot in 2020. When asked why, two-thirds of them said that elections have little to do with how decisions actually get made. The perception of political pantomime has led to an epidemic of apathy. Americans are checking out. 

 

The truth is, elections have never been democratic. They’re inherently oligarchic—they produce rule by the wealthy few. We know! This goes against everything we’ve been taught in school, the media, and at home. But it’s true. For hundreds of years, it was well understood by philosophers and leaders alike that elections create oligarchy. Lotteries, everyone agreed, create democracy. Only recently did we forget this truth.

 

Think about it. Lotteries realize the ideal of equality in ways that elections can’t even begin to approach. They give every citizen the same chance at selection—that’s the essence of democracy. And Citizens’ Assemblies reflect the public’s backgrounds and beliefs much more accurately than elected legislatures. So, despite everything you hear on the news, remember: America’s not truly a democracy. It’s become an oligarchy in disguise.

 

For a deeper dive, read this post by our teammate Nick. You can also watch the video “How To Become a Demos” at the Sortition Academy.

How do you have accountability with this approach?

Citizens’ Assemblies are actually much more answerable to the public than career politicians. Members hold each other to account; they take their responsibilities seriously and follow their informed conscience.

Elections are a poor way to hold leaders to account—that’s another myth. By the time voting day rolls around, most of us have forgotten (or never learned) what elected officials have been up to during their term. And though in theory we can throw the bums out, usually we don’t.  94% of incumbents across the nation won reelection in 2020.

 

Assemblies, on the other hand, are open and transparent. Because members are selected by democratic lottery and —serve only once— they don’t have to worry about their fundraising, image, or re-election prospects. Instead, they decide what’s truly in the best interest of all, mindful of the impact their decisions have on the wider community. During their discussions, they practice “peer accountability,” the way Americans already do on juries.

 

And at the end, the assembly issues a report—which includes dissenting viewpoints—that’s made accessible to everyone. The members literally give an account of their decision, having to describe, explain, and justify their actions to the public. Compared to the games, tricks, and backroom deals of politicians, it’s a huge improvement.

 

For a deeper dive, read scholar Jane Mansbridge’s article on accountability

I’m a public official. What’s in this for me?

Citizens’ Assemblies solve the thorny, no-win problems that create such headaches for public officials. In the process, they help leaders build stronger connections with their constituents, gain public support, and become visionary representatives focused on long-term goals and inclusive solutions.

Citizens’ Assemblies offer civil servants and elected officials a valuable resource to make their job easier and more effective. By tapping into the diverse perspectives and innovative ideas of everyday people, public officials gain fresh insights, innovative ideas, and practical solutions for pressing issues. Assemblies assist public officials immensely by fostering cooperation, unity, and impactful policies. 

 

Through Citizens’ Assemblies, elected officials can gain a deeper understanding of the needs and aspirations of their constituents. This enhanced trust and transparency cultivate a positive relationship between leaders and the public, increasing support and engagement. As elected officials listen and respond to assembly recommendations, they can make well-informed decisions that resonate with the community, further bolstering their effectiveness as representatives.

 

Incorporating Citizens’ Assemblies into the democratic process empowers public servants to focus on forward-thinking solutions. This shift away from short-term political gains allows elected officials to tackle complex issues with the support and insights of the people they serve. Embracing Citizens’ Assemblies not only enriches democracy but also simplifies the policymaking process, making it more relevant and, ultimately, more fulfilling for elected officials in their mission to serve the public’s best interests.

Would lotteries select Presidents, Judges, or Civil Servants?

Not exactly.

As our friends say at Of By For*, “When it comes to executing policy and running the government day-to-day, we do need professionals. A Citizens’ Assembly selects only a group of representatives—like for Congress or state legislatures—not individual executives.”

 

Citizens selected by lottery could, however, be empowered to agree on qualified Presidents, Judges, and Civil Servants—free from cronyism, corruption, and divisive campaigns. Right now, these positions get filled via partisan politics, which too often fails to put our best and brightest in the jobs where we need them. This must stop—Citizens’ Assemblies can help.

 

For more on how Citizens’ Assemblies could be used to choose Executives, check out this post from our friends at Equality by Lot. For proposals on how lotteries could choose Judges, check out this post from Simon Threlkeld, and this one from our teammate Nick.

What would the founders think of Citizens’ Assemblies?

The founders would want us to form a more perfect union—just like they did. If they’d known about this process, they’d likely have endorsed it. John Adams, for example, thought that “the greatest care should be employed in constituting” a legislature, which, he said, “should be in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them.” Sounds like a Citizens’ Assembly!

Here are five points to keep in mind about the founders:

 

1. Which Founders? The ultimate founders of the United States were the People—everyday Americans like us, who ratified the Constitution through chosen representatives. And the delegates at Philadelphia always believed that their work would be improved upon over time. We the People retain our sovereignty to this day, and have the right to change, upgrade, and reconstitute our government as we see fit. So says the Declaration of Independence itself. We’re free at any time to offer responsible ideas to enhance our republic. Democracy by Assembly is such a prudent idea.

 

2. Which Founding? The United States hasn’t had just one founding, but many over the centuries. We’ve passed dozens of amendments, which have brought benefits like the direct election of Senators. We’ve changed certain practices through custom, like having the Electoral College follow the will of the voters rather than choose the President themselves. We’ve expanded citizenship to include groups of Americans once left out, like women, African Americans, and First Nations. Because of these efforts, America today is much more democratic than in 1787. And that’s good! Democracy by Assembly continues the long tradition of expanding democracy in America.

 

3. Founders for Democracy: Certain framers favored a more democratic form of government. Thomas Paine, for example, who proposed a role for lotteries in Common Sense. So did James Wilson, at the Constitutional Convention itself. Ben Franklin served as president of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania under its democratic government. Thomas Jefferson wanted to increase democracy at the local level and believed Americans should write a new constitution every 20 years. And later founder —like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King—called for a new birth of freedom and government of the people, by the people, for the people. Democracy by Assembly channels the spirit of America’s historic luminaries.

 

4. The Danger of Factions: Of all the threats that made them anxious for America, the framers feared factionalism most. George Washington warned as much in his Farewell Address. They designed a system they hoped would prevent the poison of partisan politics. But today, that design is cracking under a new and insidious kind of tribalism. In order to save America, we must shore up its foundation and insulate it from factional hatreds. Democracy by Assembly will heal our nation from polarization and prevent the framers’ worst nightmare.

 

5. More Perfect: The framers were learned men with many admirable ideas. They were also human beings limited by their context. When it came to Athenian democracy, they just didn’t know what we do today. This wasn’t their fault—we’ve accrued a wealth of new knowledge about democracy over the last 250 years. One thing they got right: America is an enduring project, ever improving itself in order to form a more perfect union. The Constitution itself was a development from our first government, the Articles of Confederation. So, just as we’ve made great strides in fields like medicine, technology, and communications, so should we advance self-government. Democracy by Assembly is America’s software update for the 21st century.

 

For a deeper dive, read scholar Akhil Amar’s article on constitutional change and the framers. You can also watch the videos “America as a Project” and “Revitalizing American Democracy”at the Sortition Academy.

Who or what is Assemble America?

Assemble America is a non-profit umbrella organization, homebase for our grassroots movement. We seek to raise awareness of Democracy by Assembly through networking, advocacy, and education. The more people that believe in Citizens’ Assemblies, the more natural such assemblies will feel, and the more we can incorporate them into our form of government. To learn more about who we are and what we do, check out the About page.

What's Assemble America trying to accomplish?

Network, advocate, and educate for Citizens’ Assemblies.

We want to bring Democracy by Assembly to the USA. To do so, we need millions of Americans who know what it is and who are clamoring for Citizens’ Assemblies. We need to win hearts and minds. That means generating visible numbers and demonstrating broad public support for Democracy by Assembly. To that end, we seek to:

 

● Build a network of networks for pro-democracy organizations;

 

● Launch a media campaign that will raise awareness about Democracy by Assembly;

 

● Recruit, teach, and equip scores of everyday Americans to become ambassadors for Citizens’ Assemblies.

 

Whether you sign up as a member; donate to our cause; or just watch our videos, each little bit builds momentum!

What’s Assemble America’s long-term goal?

Democracy in America—for real!

In the end, we want to see Democracy by Assembly permanently incorporated into how we do things in America. The movement will ultimately determine the best means to do so, but here are a few ways it might come about:

 

● Ad-hoc Citizens’ Assemblies: regular assemblies at the local, state, and national level, where everyday Americans solve problems and generate policy ideas (as seen in Ireland).

 

● Permanent Citizens’ Assembly: a third branch of Congress that houses a permanent allotted chamber, which would work with the elected ones (as seen in Belgium).

 

● Democratic Renewal: the use of Democracy by Assembly beyond government, e.g., in schools, businesses, and unions; corporations, museums, and banks—everywhere large groups of people need to make decisions (as seen in this proposal for a democratic co-op, and this design for a People’s Bank in LA).

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