Public Opinion in a Democracy: A Study in American Politics

Public Opinion in a Democracy: A Study in American Politics

Public Opinion in a Democracy: A Study in American Politics

Public Opinion in a Democracy: A Study in American Politics

Excerpt

In parts of the world people are doing strange things these days. Indeed there are some who think that we are doing strange things ourselves but, at least as this book goes to press, no government censor exists to toss it on a bonfire if perchance there be found in it any suggestion of political heresy.

The importance of public opinion is now appreciated as it has seldom been before. Is a new cigarette or a new toothpaste to be marketed? Stage a publicity campaign! Is an Austria to be absorbed or a Czechoslovakia to be vivisected? Stage a publicity campaign! Are a people to be deprived of their liberties? Stage a publicity campaign in order that they may be persuaded to place the noose around their own necks! In the words of the President of the United States, as he surveyed the world at the beginning of 1939, "We have learned that long before any overt military act, aggression begins with preliminaries of propaganda, subsidized penetration, the loosening of ties of good will, the stirring of prejudice, and the incitement to disunion." The ratio of gullibility to sophistication among the people determines the success or failure of such campaigns. Unfortunately political sophistication in the contemporary world is less common than we imagined a short while ago. Since public opinion determines the routes we take as to many matters, some of which are as important as life itself, an examination of the forces that influence public opinion and the significance of opinions themselves now seems to be timely.

I learned my first lessons in politics and public affairs in the years just before the United States entered the World War . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.