Something of major importance happened in the recent presidential election, though it has its roots, of course, farther back in time. We are living through the degradation of democratic politics. The procedures of democracy remain intact, perhaps even improved, but the substance of democracy, popular participation, serious discussion, structured publics) is visibly shrinking. To look with dismay at the recent election is not at all to sentimentalize the American past; of course we have always had hoopla, demagoguery, ignorance, deceit; but now there really is something new and ominous.
Politics has become largely a function of advertising, advertising an accomplice or branch of television, and television a power that tilts politic...
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