Rushed to Judgment: Talk Radio, Persuasion, and American Political Behavior

By David C. Barker | Go to book overview

8
Conclusion

This book has examined what might be termed the DNA of democratic politics—persuasion. Essentially, I have sought to understand how this democratic DNA is formed. In mapping this political genome, I have analyzed political behavior in its various forms—attitudes, candidate appraisals, policy preferences, partisan attachments, value orientations, vote choices, participation decisions, and belief structures. Each of these behavioral elements involves some kind of judgment. A democratic citizen is constantly engaged, asking herself, “Does that idea make sense? Which candidate do I prefer? What do these parties stand for? What is more important to me? Should I vote in this election? Can I make a difference? Who is depending on me? Is that true?” Is it possible that the dynamics of such American political judgment are increasingly becoming induced, simplified, or otherwise Rushed in the face of the information revolution that has spawned various forms of “new media?”

I suggest that the answer is an unqualified “yes.” The results obtained from the various analyses described in this book, which have focused on one of the most conspicuous forms of the new media—call-in political talk radio—speak to the way we understand the social psychology of modern political judgment and the changing role of mass media as it relates to modern democratic decision making.

Although talk radio is an important medium that shows no signs of withering away, it is but one salient example of the new ways that Americans inform themselves about public life. To summarize, more choices and shortened attention spans have led Americans to combine

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