In the US right now, the health care “debate” is raging and town hall meetings being held across the country are being deliberately hijacked by those who don’t want to see reform go ahead. This tactic is discouraging but predictable. “Town Hall” meetings are not usually conducive to democratic deliberation, and they are never about dialogue.
Over the past few days an amazing conversation has unfolded on the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation listserv about what these events mean for deliberative democracy. Tom Atlee has summarized a lot of the learning from these in a long blog post which is a keeper:
I want to take a look at the dysfunctional health care debate as an opportunity for evolutionary action. Not because health care is more important than other issues, but because its current dynamics exemplify the kind of transformational potentials we will face over and over in coming years, as the multifaceted crises of our time unfold. Understanding the dynamics of this currently disturbing event may help us prepare better for each new wave of opportunity.
Go have a read: Are Disrupted Town Hall Meetings an Evolutionary Opportunity?