Dr. Christopher Phillips believes Americans across the political spectrum are increasingly alarmed that the “system is rigged” — that it no longer resembles the constitutional republic our founders had in mind.

To combat that problem, more than 20 years ago, Phillips began a series of group discussions that encourages participants to engage in vigorous debate.

As a Greek American, Phillips said he was aiming to resuscitate an "ancient Greek practice of meeting in public spaces, known as agoras, where people came together and engaged in vigorous debate about some of life’s big questions.” 

These discussions evolved into what Phillips calls Democracy Cafes, which focus on how we should act not just as individuals, but as a democratic society.

And the Democracy Café has now come to Boston. The event was held Friday at 2pm at the Green Dragon Tavern. The Veterans' Day discussion focused on the role of the military in a democracy.

Phillips, a network fellow at Harvard University's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and a senior education fellow at the National Constitution Center, said he hopes the dialogues help bring people together in a time of deep divisions.

“What I strive to do is create the fertile conditions so that people can discover on their own what I would call ‘uncommon common ground,’” said Phillips. He defines ‘uncommon common ground’ as when people discover that they share “certain values that does make democracy, maybe, more hopeful than we might give it credit for being.”