Welcome to Discourse for Democracy
Discourse for Democracy refers to a series of discussions that retired navy captain and scholar Matthew S. A. Feely sponsors and facilitates to elevate the public’s capacity and thirst for informed political deliberation. Discourse for Democracy bolsters participants’ endeavor to be more responsible, more capable and more discerning consumers and providers of the republican form, the American form of democracy.
The Discourse, a nonprofit organization, borrows from the best characteristics of two Enlightenment-era institutions that had roles in “shaping the public sphere”– mainland European salons and their British cousins, the coffeehouses.
Because good ideas come from people representing the whole spectrum of political orientations and because all persons vested in the success of the republic deserve an opportunity for their ideas to be heard, Discourse for Democracy extends a welcome to any person, citizen and non-citizen, who wishes to think about and suggest solutions for the challenges to the political health of the republic. Those who prefer to consider and discuss solutions that others propose are equally welcome.
Even persons who are ideological partisans are welcome to participate in the Discourse’s discussions as long as participants agree to comport to notions of respect for the right of all participants to express their thoughts and have their thoughts considered. As such, the discussions represent a cauldron of free expression and heightened listening, a place where all participants have the opportunity to exercise their intellect, listen to others, challenge others, and express and defend their opinions.
Discussions help us to relearn how to agree and sometimes disagree – without being disagreeable, without succumbing to bitterness, without descending into cynicism. Discourse for Democracy accepts partisanship, but not partisan polemic.
The Discourse’s Mission is two-fold: (1) to elevate the public’s willingness and ability to contribute to informed political deliberation, and (2) to inspire offshoot organizations
The Discourse’s Vision is to “strengthen the republic’s foundation through enhanced, more inclusive political deliberation.”
Although the mission and vision of Discourse for Democracy are altogether important, urgent, and serious, the discussion sessions are just as certainly invigorating, fun and sociable. Along with expressing ideas and listening to others, contesting and debating, participants enjoy food, drink and fellowship in an intimate setting.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Discourse presents discussion sessions to participants without charge. Participants with adequate financial resources are encouraged, however, to share a portion of the costs of individual sessions by making a tax deductible contribution to Discourse for Democracy. A $10.00 or $20.00 contribution will offset the costs of a single discussion session for, respectively, one or two participants. Sponsorships at higher levels are also welcome and appreciated, as indicated on the contribution page.
The “upcoming events” page provides a calendar indicating scheduled events. Click on the particular date of the event to learn what topic will be discussed and to reserve a place at the discussion. The link will also provide access the appropriate essay that helps participants prepare for the discussion session. The essays are typically written and posted three to four weeks in advance of the discussion session.
The “completed events” page offers interested persons a chance to read the introductory essays from past discussions as well as the rapporteur’s report, which summarizes the major findings or questions that emerged from the discussions.