Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public / Edition 1

Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public / Edition 1

by Matthew A. Crenson, Thomas Stanton
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0801878861

ISBN-13: 9780801878862

Pub. Date: 01/28/2004

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

In the nineteenth 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,

Overview

In the nineteenth 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 twentieth century, however, the nature of American democracy transformed so thoroughly that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 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 Downsizing Democracy, 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. Mandatory taxes have replaced bonds as a means to fund military operations, career civil servants have replaced volunteers in the allocation of public services, and an elite, professional soldier has replaced the citizen-soldier. With citizens pushed to the periphery of political life, narrow special interest groups from across the political spectrum -- largely composed of faceless members drawn from extended mailing lists -- have come to dominate state and federal decision-making. In the closing decade of the last century, this trend only intensified as the federal government, taking a cue from business management practices, rethought its relationship to its citizens as one of a provider of goods and services to individual "customers." At a time when an American's investment in the democratic process has largely been reduced to an annual contribution to a political party or organization, Downsizing Democracy offers a critical reassessment of American democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801878862
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
01/28/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
Up to 18 Years

Table of Contents

Prefacevii
Chapter 1From Popular to Personal Democracy1
Chapter 2The Rise and Fall of the Citizen20
Chapter 3Elections without Voters47
Chapter 4The Old Patronage and the New80
Chapter 5Disunited We Stand106
Chapter 6From Masses to Mailing Lists122
Chapter 7The Jurisprudence of Personal Democracy152
Chapter 8Movements without Members182
Chapter 9Privatizing the Public198
Chapter 10Does Anyone Need Citizens?234
Notes245
Index285

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