Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public

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Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002 - Political Science - 294 pages
In the 19th century, America was exceptional for the vitality of its democratic institutions, particularly political parties. When citizens wanted change, they mobilized as political groups to pressure their congressional representatives or they made their power felt at the ballot box. Government, in turn, depended on the citizenry to staff public agencies, serve in the armed services, and provide funds in time of war through the purchase of bonds. Over the course of the 20th century, however, the nature of American democracy transformed so thoroughly that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, President George W. Bush - elected by less than a quarter of eligible voters - told Americans that the best way they could help their country was to shop and travel while the government conducted a remote war. In this text, Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg describe how the powerful idea of a collective citizenry has given way to a concept of personal, autonomous democracy, in which political change is effected through litigation, lobbying, and term limits, rather than active participation in the political process.

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About the author (2002)

Matthew A. Crenson is a professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University whose books include Building the Invisible Orphanage and Neighborhood Politics. Benjamin Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for the Study of American Government at the Johns Hopkins University. His books include Politics by Other Means and American Government: Freedom and Power.

Benjamin Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author or coauthor of 20 books including "Presidential Power: Unchecked and Unbalanced"; "Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public"; "Politics by Other Means; The Consequences of Consent"; and "The Captive Public". Ginsberg received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1973. Before joining the Hopkins faculty in 1992, Ginsberg was Professor of Government at Cornell. His most recent book is "The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters".

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