Voters and Politicians in "Politics by Other Means" Book Review by Nicky

A critical review of the book, "Politics by Other Means", by Benjamin Ginsberg and Martin Shefter.
# 151197 | 1,897 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2012 | US
Published on May 29, 2012 in Political Science (Election and Campaigns) , Political Science (U.S.)

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The paper looks at how Ginsberg and Shefter in their book, "Politics by Other Means", address the generally low voter turnout during presidential elections and points out that the authors focus mostly on the actions of politicians and do not address the cynicism, active mistrust and apathy voters have concerning politics and politicians. The paper notes that this work was written prior to 9/11 which changed voter attitudes; the paper then also looks at Ginsberg's more recent work. The paper reaches the conclusion that Ginsberg and Shefter's work might benefit from a more global view of all sides of the issue, although their work is an important springboard for further investigation in the dynamics of current politics and voter inclination.

From the Paper:

"There is no doubt that Ginsberg and Shefter argue their point well, both in Politics by Other Means and in other works. In order to discuss the use of non-democratic and indeed non-political means of achieving political aims, the authors for example mention the tabloid-type attacks that candidates tend to launch during election campaigns. Rather than for example focusing on policy issues, politicians aim to discredit each other in this way. The authors view this as an attempt by politicians to speak to voters on their own level. Instead of attempting to explain to the public the complexity of economic policies, for example, they use means of discourse that the television-enslaved masses can understand.
"Other means that politicians often use to reach their goals, according to the authors, is court legislature rather than the democratic vote and other democratic processes. This is an increasing phenomenon that the authors refer to as "judicial activism." In this, politicians often use courts to bypass the democratic process. One example of this is the Clinton administration. The presidential aim was to use HUD and liberal mayors to orchestrate lawsuits against the manufacturers of firearms instead of using democratic channels in an attempt to ban firearms. The difficulty in achieving the latter goal is what often encourages the political and indeed creative use of legislative bodies to indirectly gain success."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Crenson, Matthew A. and Ginsberg, Benjamin. Downsizing democracy: ho America sidelined its citizens and privatized its public. JHU Press, 2004.
  • Crenson, Matthew A and Ginsberg, Benjamin. "Citizens to Customers: How America Downsized Citizenship and Privatized Its Public." In . Making government manageable: executive organization and management in the twenty-first century. Edited by Thomas H Stanton and Benjamin Ginsberg JHU Press, 2004.
  • Ginsberg, Benjamin and Shefter, Martin. Politics by other means: the declining importance of elections in America. Basic Books, 1990.
  • Knight, Kathleen and Lewis, Carolyn V. "Does Ideology Matter?" in Do Elections Matter? Edited by Benjamin Ginsberg and Alan Stone. M.E. Sharpe, 1996.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Voters and Politicians in "Politics by Other Means" (2012, May 29) Retrieved February 21, 2024, from

MLA Format

"Voters and Politicians in "Politics by Other Means"" 29 May 2012. Web. 21 February. 2024. <>