What are Campaigns For?: The Role of Persuasion in Electoral Law and Politics

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Oxford University Press, 2009 - Law - 219 pages
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Election campaigns ought to be serious occasions in the life of a democratic polity. For citizens of a democracy, an election is a time to take stock-to reexamine our beliefs; to review our understanding of our own interests; to ponder the place of those interests in the larger social order; and to contemplate, and if necessary to revise, our understanding of how our commitments are best translated into governmental policy-or so we profess to believe.

Americans, however, are haunted by the fear that our election campaigns fall far short of the ideal to which we aspire. The typical modern American election campaign seems crass, shallow, and unengaging. The arena of our democratic politics seems to lie in an uncomfortable chasm between our political ideals and everyday reality.

What Are Campaigns For? is a multidisciplinary work of legal scholarship that examines the role of legal institutions in constituting the disjunction between political ideal and reality. The book explores the contemporary American ideal of democratic citizenship in election campaigns by tracing it to its historical sources, documenting its thorough infiltration of legal norms, evaluating its feasibility in light of the findings of empirical social science, and testing it against the requirements of democratic theory.

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the Deliberative Ideal
Election Law and the Formation of Public Opinion
Campaigns and the Stability of Political Opinion

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About the author (2009)

James A. Gardner is Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and Joseph W. Belluck and Laura L. Aswad Professor of Civil Justice at the University at Buffalo Law School, State University of New York, where he also directs the Edwin F. Jaeckle Center for State and Local Democracy. After earning a BA from Yale University and a JD from the University of Chicago, Gardner practiced law at the United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, in Washington, D.C. He subsequently taught at Western New England College School of Law, William and Mary, and the University of Connecticut before coming to the University of Buffalo in 2001.

Gardner's research interests include the theoretical foundations of the constitutional structure of politics, the institutionalization through law of principles of democracy, constitutional structures of federalism, and subnational constitutional law. He is the author or editor of five books and more than forty articles.

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