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What are Campaigns For?The Role of Persuasion in Electoral Law and Politics$
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James A. Gardner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195392616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392616.001.0001

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The Political Campaign: Emergence of the Deliberative Ideal

The Political Campaign: Emergence of the Deliberative Ideal

(p.13) One The Political Campaign: Emergence of the Deliberative Ideal
What are Campaigns For?

James A. Gardner

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the evolution of American conceptions of campaigns and the emergence of the contemporary deliberative model. During the 18th century, campaigning was thought to be inappropriate for qualified candidates and voters were thought incapable of meaningfully contemplating questions of public policy. By the mid-19th century, campaigns were conceived mainly as a form of public entertainment, and voting was understood as intensely partisan and largely personal. It was not until the late 19th century that election campaigns began to be associated with meaningful public deliberation on political issues. This development allowed the emergence of a problem previously unknown to American politics: the problem of voter irrationality. Campaigns today are characterized by high expectations of reasoned persuasion of the electorate, accompanied by profound disappointment at the failure of campaigns to live up to this widely held expectation.

Keywords:   campaigns, voters, voter irrationality, persuasion, deliberation

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