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The Hewlett Foundation Blog




Moving Toward Multi-Dimensionary Democracy 

July 25, 2014 — By Heath Wickline

In a post at Stanford Social Innovation Review, Maribel Morey continues the conversation about our recently announced Madison Initiative, criticizing the initiative's focus on gridlock in Congress, which she attributes to Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer's "democratic theory:" 

{B]y contextualizing the Madison Initiative within Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer’s own scholarship, the project gains some intellectual coherence and shows that its roots are different from what either Callahan or Stid suggest. Rather, the Madison Initiative is specifically a reflection of Kramer’s democratic theory. That said, his theory limits the ability of the initiative to meet its general goal of rescuing a troubled American democracy. If the project cares to maintain this broader purpose, then it will need to move beyond Kramer’s restrictive definition of American democracy and adopt a more multi-layered one.

In a comment on Morey's post, Larry argues that she has misunderstood the political theory at work in his book The People Themselves, and defends the Madison Initiative's focus on Congress:

The Hewlett Foundation’s initiative focuses on Congress not because it is the exclusive forum for [negotiating agreements in our society between people with vastly different beliefs and interests], but because Congress remains the preeminent one, and because successfully moving even that institution in a positive direction is already a pretty monumental task.