By the People is a special project organized by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions to bring the views of informed, “ordinary” citizens to a national discussion on the important issues of the day. Since its launch in 2002, BTP has supported well over 200 Citizen Deliberations around the country and more than 100 national and local PBS broadcasts, on issues ranging from national security to healthcare.
On June 24, 2011, a scientifically selected random sample of 412 registered voters from throughout the state participated in California’s first ever statewide Deliberative Poll on governance reform, in Torrance, CA. The turnout for the “What’s Next California?” Poll was unprecedented in the 17 year history of Deliberative Polling® and the participants came prepared and eager to share their views and engage with fellow Californians in discussions about how our state is governed.
The results of the deliberative poll, and the reactions of Michigan residents to issues such as poverty, education, unemployment, housing and the economy aired on public TV stations in Michigan on Jan. 18. Questions were formulated with the input of Michigan-based public policy experts.
By the People — through its local public television and community organization partners — hosted Citizen Deliberations in 11 communities around the country focused on the rights and responsibilities of citizens, as they relate to issues of local importance. The local deliberations were accompanied by a national Online Deliberative Poll exploring 21st century citizenship in America. Weekly discussions were held online using audio chat software developed for deliberative polling®. Participants joined a circular meeting space for a moderated discussion using their computer microphones.
In a unique national experiment, a scientific sample of voters nationwide participated in weekly small group discussions to become more informed about the issues in the Presidential election. PDF
After day-long "Citizen Deliberations," Americans from ten cities across the United States said they believed establishing a democracy in Iraq was less important than ensuring the country has a stable government. They also strongly favored involving the United Nations or other countries in the rebuilding of Iraq and rejected the notion that the United States should be able to unilaterally invade other countries that appear to pose a threat, without international support.
The inaugural event of By the People brought together more than 300 Americans in Philadelphia, birthplace of the U.S. Constitution, to discuss America in the world in a National Issues Convention that was broadcast on PBS on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2003.