E. J. Dionne is right that politics is not just for experts. Democracy should give ordinary people a say in the affairs that govern their lives. You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to be a professional. You don’t have to be wealthy. You don’t have to be socially gifted. Admittedly, having any one of these characteristics might well give you an advantage when you do engage, but they are not a precondition for entry. The era of mass democracy has established a commitment to realize the great democratic norm: ‘every individual potentially affected by a decision should have an equal opportunity to affect that decision’.2 The magic in that formula appears to have been lost in the practice of democratic politics if the analysis presented by Parts I and II of this book is anything to go by. Part III of the book, therefore, focuses on the search for solutions, and is premised on a conviction that we need to construct a politics fit for amateurs. Politics in democratic societies needs more than effective leaders and activists and a silent and patient citizenry.
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