The challenges of the twenty-first century are of an unprecedented scale. Climate change, financial instability, the housing crisis, the need for health care―all of these are political issues that could be managed with ease if they were occurring on a much smaller scale. But with a huge global population and inextricable connections between the issues, our old tools for change look increasingly blunt. Many of the large bodies we once appointed to manage our common problems―including national governments― have begun to fail at critical moments.
But there is good news: We can use our vast size and complexity to our advantage. Drawing on the lessons of open source technology, social change leader Jared Duval offers an inspiring call to action. Next Generation Democracy chronicles some of the watershed events, such as Hurricane Katrina, during which centralized leadership was not enough, and then tells the success stories of the leaders, both inside the government and out, who are finding effective, directly democratic ways to address our public challenges. Telling the stories of participatory organizations such as SeeClickFix and America Speaks, Duval describes a new approach to solving complex problems that draws on the contributions of vast and diverse communities of engaged citizens. An artful blend of personal writing, journalism, and political argument, Next Generation Democracy not only gives us a vision of a brighter future, it inspires us to be a part of it.