By Invitation Only / Edition 1

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By Invitation Only examines the shift in the United States from mobilization (the partisan method of stimulating very high voter turnout in elections) to activation--the political variant of "niche marketing." This more contemporary method, which parties, interest groups, and candidates employ, induces particular, finely targeted portions of the public to become active in elections, demonstrations, and lobbying. The result is a decline in majority rule in American politics.
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What People Are Saying

Benjamin Ginsberg
Contemporary American politics is a highly stratified process in which many individuals participate frequently and effectively but tens of millions are hardly involved at all. Steven Schier explains how and why some Americans are ardently courted by candidates, parties and interest groups, while others are never invited to the party. By Invitation Only should be read by everyone concerned with the future of American democracy. (Benjamin Ginsberg, Johns Hopkins University)
John Green
This book advances a provocative thesis: all forms of political activism are not equal from the point of view of a healthy democracy. It is a timely and insightful contribution to the debate on what ails American politics. (John Green, University of Akron)
Larry J. Sabato
Larry J. Sabato, University of Virginia

Steven Schier’s clearly written treatise on contemporary American politics challenges us to re-think some of the fundamentals of our system. His exceptionally perceptive analysis of the electorate’s current lack of participation is fully matched by his intriguing set of broad-gauged reforms in the concluding chapter. The book is guaranteed to generate constructive dialogue in the classroom and to engage both graduate and undergraduate students in a critical area of political science.
Bill Schneider
Bill Schneider, Senior Political Analyst, CNN

Schier has something important to say about what’s gone wrong in this country, about how politics feasts on cynicism and apathy. An eye-opening and provocative book.
Charles Peters
Charles Peters, Editor-in-Chief, The Washington Monthly

After providing an insightful examination of the reasons behind the decline in voting and the triumph of the special interests, Steven Schier concludes this important book with a suggestion on how to increase citizen participation in political decisions.
L. Sandy Maisel
L. Sandy Maisel, Colby College

Schier has written an extremely insightful examination of the causes and consequences of fundamental changes in American democracy. Exhaustively researched and documented, this book is must reading for those who want to understand how the shift from partisan appeals to all voters . . . to narrower appeals to subpopulations . . . inevitably followed changes in our party system and means of campaigning and lobbying , and just as inevitably resulted in a diminution of the representative nature of our democracy.
Johnathan Rauch
Jonathan Rauch, National Journal

Years ago, voters were mobilized; today, they are activated. As Steven Schier makes resoundingly clear, this is a distinction with a difference—and what a difference! His learned, sensible, and sometimes alarming book does more than anything I’ve read in a long time to explain the dysfunctions of modern American politics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822957126
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The Rise of Activation Strategies 7
2 The Great Disintegration: From Partisan Mobilization to Activation 42
3 Candidates, Parties, and Electoral Activation 89
4 Interest Organizations and Electoral Activation 125
5 Interest Organizations and Government: Lobbying by Activation 155
6 From Activation to inclusion 194
Bibliography 223
Index 239
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2000

    A note from the author

    Coming from the author, the five-star rating is no surprise. I've been teaching, observing and writing about American politics for twenty-four years. During that time, I've regularly visited Washington as director of Carleton College's Washington program. In that program, we meet with many 'state of the art' political operatives. Listening to them over the years, I realized that the techniques of campaigning seemed to shift in the 1990s, producing some perverse results. As the amount spent on elections went up during that decade, actual voter turnout went down. Why? After researching the latest techniques in campaigning and lobbying, I discovered that American politics has become a politics of exclusive invitations. Political parties, organized interests and candidates for office all try to prevail by motivating carefully targeted segments of the public to vote or press demands upon government. In the process, a large segment of the public -- about half -- receives little invitation or inducement to participate in our politics. What brought us to this point? The causes are many. The decay of political parties, the rise of new political technologies and the development of an increasingly user-unfriendly electoral system created perverse incentives for parties, politicians and interest groups. Now, who targets best usually rules, and targeting is always exclusive. The cost and risk of reaching out to all citizens has become too high for our political leaders. Providing exclusive invitations is the efficient way to political success. My book relies on dozens of interviews with elected officials, lobbyists, and campaign consultants. Chapters explain how parties declined and how new campaign and lobbying techniques arose, producing unwelcome results. The concluding chapter suggests some reforms to bring the public back into politics. I elaborated my argument in a column appearing in the WASHINGTON POST on October 24, 1999. You can access that through their archives. If you do read the book, be sure to share your evaluation of it with me.

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