Bringing Deliberation to the Democratic Dialogue
In January 1996, for the first time ever in this country, a national random sample assembled in a single place to consider a set of current policy issues. These were the “delegates” to the four-day National Issues Convention (NIC) in Austin, Texas, an experiment in democracy conducted by the University of Texas at Austin with many partners, including the Public Broadcasting Service and all eleven presidential libraries. The NIC was a Deliberative Poll, the third of its kind, following two earlier ones in Britain in 1994 and 1995. Its aim was to gauge what citizens would think about the issues if they engaged them much more than in their everyday lives-or than in answering ordinary surveysby learning, thinking, and talking more about them (see Fishkin 1991, 1997; Luskin, Fishkin, & Jowell, 1997).