in Real Democracy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226077963
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077987 | DOI:

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This chapter makes two claims: First, what happened in Athens, Vermont, in 1992 on the sidelines of the twenty-five hundredth anniversary of the birth of democracy was not strange, or random, or even a unique event. Second, it was real democracy. The first claim is easily supported. In America, town meeting predates representative government. The town meeting is stitched into the fabric of New England and dominates the patchwork of its public past. It occurs in each New England state at a set time and in a set place. It is accessible to every citizen, coded in law, and conducted regularly in over 1,000 towns. In the state of Vermont, citizens in more than 230 towns meet at least once each year to pass laws governing the town. Since the dawn of modern political science, people have come together to govern themselves in approximately 11,280 individual, properly “warned,” town-based, democratic assemblies in Vermont alone.

Keywords: democracy; representative government; Athens; political science; democratic assemblies; town laws; governance

Chapter.  11554 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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