Political campaigns in the United States have been . favorite targets of critics since our nation's origin. "Too long", "too expensive", "too negative", "too personal", "unbecoming to our democracy" -- these criticisms were made in the nineteenth century just as they are made today; but are they compelling?This short book takes a fresh look at the American style of campaign politics, past and present, warts and all, to argue that campaigns reflect both our popular culture and the place of politics in our national life. In the end, the purpose of campaigns is to draw voters' attention to a candidate or issue, even though politics is not of immediate interest to many or most citizens. That is what campaigns do and always have done in America -- and there is little reason to think that a more cerebral approach to politics would be more effective.Reflective, analytical, and firmly committed to democratic values, this book challenges citizens to trade cynicism for realism -- to take a clear-eyed look at our politics and ourselves, and appreciate both for what they are.
This book provides a "macro" overview of public policymaking as well the "micro" level knowledge that enables ordinary citizens, both individually and collectively, to become involved in public policymaking. It combines a bird's eye view of political institutions, processes, and relationships with a "how-to" approach to civic engagement. Each chapter includes a policy case study, a student project, and discussion questions. Designed as a service-learning supplement for courses in public policy and American or local government, for fieldwork courses and internships, and for teacher training, the book will be equally useful in any organized effort to foster community service and civic responsibility.