Friday, January 2, 2009

Partisanship and the public sphere

This is a really interesting article by Henry Farrell in the latest American Prospect. Henry argues that there has been a rise in civic participation recently, and this has not been the result of any bipartisan dialogue. Rather, intense partisanship is saving the public sphere. As Henry says,
The rebirth of civic participation this year is not a product of experiments in deliberative democracy or a new interest in league bowling. Rather, it is based on party politics, coupled with and accelerated by new opportunities provided by the Internet. Skocpol's claim that "conflict and competition have always been the mother's milk of American democracy" tells part of the story. Just as social-movement theorists might have predicted, the major innovations came from outsiders, like members of, who wanted to challenge the system. At the time when it led opposition to the Iraq War, MoveOn represented a point of view that had little support among political elites, which meant it wouldn't have been able to use conventional tools of interest-group politics even if it had wanted to. Instead, it turned to the Internet and created a new model of mass mobilization.
Very much worth the read.

No comments: