Democracy needs a good fight

We are losing the art of constructive debate, says Andrea Römmele in her new book.

We are losing our ability to seek  constructive debate as a means to form public opinion, writes Andrea Römmele, Hertie School Professor of Communication in Politics and Civil Society, in her new book, Zur Sache! (To the point!), to be published in February by Aufbau Verlag.

Democracy needs contention to thrive. A lively and confrontational public debate is the basis for forming public opinion and finding ideas for constructive solutions, she writes. But substantive debate is dying out, and is being replaced by hardened fronts of opinion, whose proponents take up battle in social media and talk shows. Assaulting each other with unchecked facts and assertions, these actors have little incentive for compromise. This has created an “us vs them” atmosphere, in which all are fighting for attention and self-affirmation. Scandalising opponents has become the norm, says Römmele.

How can societies encourage public debate in which it is possible for those with differences of opinion to challenge each other – without being divisive? Römmele explores new ways to make the public forum a place for coming together.

The book is available as of 15 February here.  

More about Andrea Römmele

  • Andrea Römmele , Dean of Executive Education and Professor for Communication in Politics and Civil Society