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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 Tabulative Campaign

The Tabulative Campaign

(p.147) Five The Tabulative Campaign
What are Campaigns For?

James A. Gardner

Oxford University Press

Contemporary dissatisfaction with election campaigns is best understood as a response to the heavy majoritarian bias of public political opinion. Critics of campaigns long for a kind of electoral democracy that would genuinely (though only modestly) destabilize majoritarian public opinion, accelerating the pace of reform. Yet those measures which might most contribute to the destabilization of public opinion during campaigns raise troubling issues of liberty and autonomy for democratic citizens. Ultimately, today's criticism of campaigns rests on a fundamentally mistaken premise: that the problems observable in our election campaigns are problems of the campaigns. They are not; the real problems lie principally outside the electoral arena, in the way that public opinion is shaped and formed in the everyday affairs of ordinary life. Election critics ought therefore to focus instead on the structure and regulation of mass media and structural resource inequalities that may unfairly grant some more influence than others over the formation of public political opinion between elections.

Keywords:   campaigns, persuasion, public opinion, destabilization, elections, media, structural inequality

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