When I wrote my article, entitled “When citizens no longer believe in change,” that was published in The Sun newspaper last Wednesday, September 14, 2016, little did I realise it would generate insightful reactions from readers. I believe in freedom of speech and expression. I believe readers should be given space to express their views not only about what they read in newspapers and in online media but also as an opportunity to express their views about how they are being governed.
Deliberative democracy is about encouraging civil society to contribute to the democratic process. It is also about assisting citizens to hold state officials to account. Participatory communication in a democracy strengthens citizens and political leaders. Leaders learn about what people are saying about the quality of government and citizens are empowered to contribute to the advancement of democracy and civic deliberation.
Participation in the political process is not all about serving in government. Logistically and pragmatically, everybody cannot serve in government. Through participatory communication, citizens contribute to the development of a strong, lively and energetic public sphere that upholds the values of democracy. Deliberative democracy advances public conversation and the emergence of new ideas. When citizens assess critically government policies and programmes, they also contribute solutions to economic, social, political, educational and cultural problems. As authors Chambers and Costain (2000, p. xi) argued in their book, entitled Deliberation, Democracy, and the Media: “Healthy democracies need a healthy public sphere where citizens (and elite) can exchange ideas, acquire knowledge and information, confront public problems, exercise public accountability, discuss policy options, challenge the powerful without fear of reprisals and defend principles.”
It is in light of this that I present today readers’ reactions to my article that was published on Wednesday last week.
Below are their views: