The Democratic Faith Essays on Democratic Citizenship Paul M. Sniderman

Castle Lecture Series
Publication date:
21 Nov 2017
Yale University Press
200 pages: 210 x 140 x 19mm
5 b-w illus.
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Can the citizens of a democracy be trusted to run it properly?

Modern political science has concentrated on cataloguing voters’ failings—their lack of knowledge, tolerance, or consistency in political thinking. While it would be a mistake to think this portrait of citizens is simply wrong, it is a deeper mistake to accept it as a satisfactory likeness. In this book, Paul Sniderman demonstrates that a concentration on the pathologies of citizens’ political thinking has obscured the intense clash of opposing belief systems in the electorate. He shows how a concentration on racism has distorted understanding of the politics of race by keeping out of sight those who think well of black Americans. And he exposes the fallacy of spotlighting the dangers of mass politics while ignoring those of elite politics.

Paul M. Sniderman is the Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr., Professor in Public Policy and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is coauthor most recently of Paradoxes of Liberal Democracy: Islam, Western Europe, and the Danish Cartoon Crisis.

"Paul Sniderman is the real deal: a scholar who cares far more about pursuing the truth than he does about avoiding ruffling feathers. His views on citizen competence and tolerance highlight aspects of how people think and feel that have been largely ignored or marginalized over the last forty-five years. Read him to see the world differently—and more as it is."—Phil Tetlock, coauthor of Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

"Paul Sniderman's deeply informed analysis of enduring questions in political psychology—regarding ideology, partisanship, racial attitudes, and the capacity for democratic citizenship—could not be more timely.  It provokes reflection and rethinking in the wake of fundamental challenges to our understanding of the American electorate."—Gary Jacobson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at U.C. San Diego