For a brief background and discussion guide, please read PBS October Deliberation Day Backgrounder.
October 11th, 2004
More than 1,500 Americans in communities around the country from Seattle to Pittsburgh and Houston to Lincoln, joined together in a common deliberation about what’s at stake for the nation as they approach the polls.
The focus of the dialogues were on two key national challenges – maintaining national security, and American jobs in the global economy. The deliberations were held almost simultaneously in 17 communities, each covered by local PBS stations as well as other media, and the results were broadcast in a national PBS broadcast “Time To Choose: A By the People Election Special,“ produced by MacNeil-Lehrer Productions with local station contributions.
The Deliberation Day participants were drawn from carefully selected random samples of citizens from each community, with the goal of illustrating public opinion at a crucial time in our nation’s history. With the help of moderators and background material, the participants came together to talk about policy and personal tradeoffs in small groups as well as meet with and publicly question experts, who represented a cross-section of the nation’s political dialogue. All had their substantive opinions about key issues on the nation’s agenda.
The collective views of these citizens provided local and national media with an extraordinary “poll with a human face” that illuminated a building block of our democracy: the willingness of Americans to participate in a civil exchange where all views are respected. The Citizen Deliberations were coordinated with national Deliberative Polling® data on what people from all over the country think, on reflection, after they too have had a chance to become informed about the issues. Scientific analysis and results will be made public shortly after the event.
PBS Deliberation Day was built on public broadcasting’s unique local-national base, and its commitment to public affairs programming.
The University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, Nebraska NET/ETV, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Office of Research and Leadership Lincoln coordinated this effort.