At the Kettering Foundation, where I presented a paper about online discussion and democracy Tuesday, foundation president David Mathews paraphrased the same challenge Joe and I were talking about last week. “Being off the page,” he said, “is a product of the kind of work we do.”
Kettering’s work is research into the mechanisms of democracy and the relationships of citizens to government and other institutions. The focus, though, is often on exploring the possibility of a revitalized citizenry, one that engages with those mechanisms of democracy in a more conscious and ongoing way.
The complexities of this revitalization, and its foreignness to everyday life in the U.S. circa 2004, are what put the inquiry “off the page” and in culture’s hopeful margins.