Aliens in Their Own Land

Aliens in Their Own Land

THE ALIENATED VOTER, by Murray B. Levin. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Political poll-takers have asked the American people many questions in their years of investigation, but seldom have they tried to find out what the American people think about politics in its everyday form. Do they believe that today’s politics is good or bad? Do they believe that it works and that it is useful? Do they believe that politicians are honest or dishonest? These questions are significant just because they are simple, because they reflect the way people think or react to politics and because it is from such fundamental reactions that their specific attitudes emerge. What does it signify to discover the opinion of a citizen on issue X or politician Y if the citizen’s general view of politics is that neither issues nor politicians matter since they are crooked, useless, and … and a lot of other unprintable things.

The truth may be unpalatable, but one political scientist has now taken his IBM cards in hand and shuffled them to ask such questions. Professor Murray Levin’s The Alienated Voter studies the reactions of Boston voters to the mayoralty campaign of 1959 and the results are shocking and even lurid. It turns out that the citizens of Boston—admittedly a discouraged and tired lot—are not only convinced that politicians are crooked but that politics is totally hopeless. The result is alienation on a colossal scale.

Levin’s The Al...

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