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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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Democratic Theory and the Thin Election Campaign

Democratic Theory and the Thin Election Campaign

(p.115) Four Democratic Theory and the Thin Election Campaign
What are Campaigns For?

James A. Gardner

Oxford University Press

Do campaigns that are devoid of meaningful persuasion and deliberation pose problems from the perspective of democratic theory? This chapter argues that they do not. In liberal theories of democracy, the importance of campaigns lies in providing an opportunity for the exchange and collection of information sufficient to make an informed choice. So long as voters are free to discuss and formulate opinions outside of the campaign, such theories do not assign a crucial role to the campaign itself. In more communitarian and participationist conceptions of democracy, election campaigns may serve valuable functions, but their significance varies inversely with the availability of alternative forums for political participation and deliberation. Even contemporary theories of deliberative democracy impose no requirement of election campaigns of any particular deliberative thickness. Deliberatively thick campaigns would be nice, but they are not necessary so long as opportunities for meaningful deliberation are available in other settings.

Keywords:   campaigns, persuasion, deliberation, deliberative democracy, liberal democracy, communitarian democracy, participationist democracy

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