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