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Discourse Before Democracy



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Discourse Before Democracy by Richard D. Anderson

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In a democracy candidates compete to draw voters to the polls by campaigning with messages composed in a language that the voter finds familiar and even banal. If familiarity encourages voting, could prohibition or restriction of voting result when discourse makes politics seem to be reserved for the few? A political discourse that was longwinded, supercilious or grandiloquent might do the job. No independent state confining ultimate authority to elected officials made the franchise available to all adults until Norway in 1915, and only after 1776 did officials chosen by even relatively broad franchises slowly displace hereditary rulers, usurpers, or privileged minorities controlling nearly all earlier polities. Examination of earlier states reveals whether any cross-linguistic discourse is common to them as well as to later dictatorships, such as the former Soviet Union, much more similar in their technology, industry, education and urbanization to contemporary democracies. The stark contrast between discourse before democracy and the discourse of democracy highlights the contribution to voting rights made by electoral politicians whose communicative style is so often disparaged.

Author Biography

Richard D. Anderson, Jr., is Professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he has served on the faculty since 1989. Before earning the doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, he spent nine years in Washington, DC, as an intelligence analyst researching Soviet military capability and as a staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and later of the Budget Committee assigned to the office of Rep. Les Aspin. He also holds a Master's in International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and is a graduate of Davidson College. He is the author of several books including Discourse, Dictators and Democrats (Ashgate 2014) and numerous shorter publications.
Release date NZ
August 28th, 2019
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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