The Internet can connect individual Americans to political power and bridge the enormous gap that now exists between the political elite and the average voter, writes journalist and political scientist Kevin O'Leary in his recently released book, Saving Democracy (Stanford University Press, 2006).
On Nov. 14, the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion with the author to address the potential of and challenges to increased citizen engagement. Brookings scholar E.J. Dionne, Jr., moderated the panel, which included U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Brookings guest scholar Jonathan Rauch.
The panel participants addressed how the 2006 election campaign dramatized citizen discontent across party lines, and considered remedies to increase their involvement in the political process. Blumenauer described the role of technology such as E-Town Hall meetings in his district. Rauch addressed the causes and cures of government dysfunction, and whether more representation is the answer.