Press, Party, and Presidency

Press, Party, and Presidency

Press, Party, and Presidency

Press, Party, and Presidency

Excerpt

How have major changes in mass communications affected the American electoral system, and how have such changes affected, in turn, presidential leadership? Seeking answers to these questions is the motivating force that propels this book.

To get at such questions requires not only an examination of crucial electoral institutions such as the presidency and the political parties, but a sense of perspective about change itself. How can we know how serious the influence of recent changes in mass communications may be on our electoral institutions if we do not know what the effects of earlier changes in mass communications were on the very same institutions? How can we distinguish the temporary political effects of the mass media from the durable ones, the short-run responses of particular candidates and issues from the long-term changes in the political system itself, if we have no benchmarks by which to judge? This book hopes to provide that very perspective by analyzing the changing relationship of mass communication to the political parties and the presidency through crucial historic periods from the country's beginnings to the present.

Above all this book is about elections, mass communications, and the key institutions—the press, the parties, and the presidency—that shape, structure, and translate political information in our political system. One central theme that is followed throughout the book is how changes in the velocity, range, and depth of penetration of mass communications have affected presidential leadership, the political parties, and the structure and content of politics itself.

In looking back over the last three years of effort culminating in this book I fully realize the debts I have to others.

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