Politics By Other Means, by Benjamin Ginsberg and Martin Shefter
In Politics by other Means, Benjamin Ginsberg and Martin Shefter argue that the plague of accusations, scandals, investigations, and prosecutions which have crippled Washington represents only one side of a new political coin; on the other side are a shrinking electorate, the decline of the parties, and the appearance of elected officials who cannot be unseated. What we are witnessing, in short, is “the emergence of a post-electoral political order,” and what we should ask ourselves is whether America is about to end. its experiment with electoral democracy.
Elections, the authors say, no longer serve the function of settling political disputes because they no longer alter the forces that exercise influence over the national government. The institutions of democracy have instead been effectively seized by opposing parties who have happily settled into a kind of protracted trench warfare. In one camp are Democrats in Congress, federal social-welfare bureaucracies, public-interest groups, and other nonprofit organizations. In the other are Republicans in the White House, the national-security bureaucracies, the defense industry, “and those segments of American society whose income, autonomy, or values are threatened by the welfare and regulatory state built by the Democrats,” a category that can encompass groups as disparate as evangelical Christians and corporate CEO’s.
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