Representing Red and Blue: How the Culture Wars Change the Way Citizens Speak and Politicians Listen

ISBN : 9780199796564

David C. Barker; Christopher Jan Carman
224 Pages
162 x 239 mm
Pub date
Sep 2012
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What is a political representative's job, really? Are they supposed to simply figure out what "the people" want and deliver it, or are they charged to do what they think is best for their constituents - even if that means sometimes ignoring those constituents' wishes? In Representing Red and Blue, David Barker and Christopher Carman explore what people think about this question, why their answers vary, and what difference it makes. They observe that the citizens of "Red America" - religious and cultural traditionalists, including most Republicans - often prefer lawmakers who challenge public opinion, whereas "Blue Americans," or culturally progressive Democrats, typically prefer lawmakers who follow it. What is more, these preferences filter up: lawmakers who represent progressive locales tend to pursue the policies their constituents want, whereas representatives of more traditionalistic places often behave quite differently, leaning decidedly to the Right of even most Red American voters. The fundamental reason underlying these patterns, Barker and Carman argue, is that on average, traditionalists and progressives simply do not hold the values of liberal popular democracy in equally high esteem. What all of this means is that the citizens of Red America live in a different kind of democracy than that of the citizens of Blue America - one where they have less political say over what their government does, but one that seems to suit their tastes all the same.


Chapter 1 Introduction: Saddling the Drunken Mule
Part I: The Demand Side of Political Representation
Chapter 2 How Do We Want to be Represented? How Do We Differ?
Chapter 3 Theory: Cultural Warfare and Styles of Representation in the US
Chapter 4 Mapping the Cultural and Partisan Divide in Representation Preferences
Part II: The Fine Art of Pandering
Chapter 5 Representation Styles, Candidate Cues, and the Voting Booth
Chapter 6 Constituent Perceptions of Representation Styles and Democratic Accountability
Chapter 7 Red Representation, Blue Representation
Chapter 8 Conclusion: Quieting the Stable, Polarizing the Ranch

About the author: 

David C. Barker is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his PhD from the University of Houston in 1998. He is also the author of Rushed to Judgment? Talk Radio, Persuasion, and American Political Behavior (Columbia University Press, 2002). His research interests include American politics, political behavior and psychology, political communication, campaigns and elections, and religion and politics. Christopher Jan Carman is Senior Research Lecturer in Government at the University of Strathclyde. He received his PhD from the University of Houston in 2000. He is also a co-author of Elections and Voters in Britain, 3rd ed. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He has served as a consultant for the Scottish Parliament and a psephologist for BBC News.

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