Public-Opin-Q-1952-BERELSON-313-30.pdf

Foreign and domestic policythese are so familiar as

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foreign and domestic policy—these are so familiar as to require no at AAPOR Member Access on March 8, 2016 Downloaded from
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DEMOCRATIC THEORY AND PUBLIC OPINION 329 elaboration. At the same time there are important evidences of con- sensus, of political cohesion, which deserve more attention than they usually get. In the first place, there is the basic fact that group member- ships and identifications overlap political choices; sizable political minorities are found in various social groups and this provides a kind of glue to hold the community together. In addition, even at the height of a presidential campaign there are sizable attitudinal minorities within each party and each social group on political issues, and thus sizable attitudinal agreements across party and group lines. Such over- lappings link various groups together and prevent their further estrangement. All of this means that democratic politics in this country is happily not total politics—a situation where politics is the single or central selector and rejector, where other social differences are drawn on top of political lines. Cross-pressures in political allegiances, based upon a pluralistic system of values, are thus highly important to the society. So the question of self and community interest may best be seen as the question of cleavage and consensus. The multiplicity and the heterogeneity of identifications and associations in the great society develop an overlapping, pluralistic social organization which both sharpens and softens the impact and the consequences of political activity. CONCIAJSION The political theory of democracy, then, requires that the electorate possess appropriate personality structures, that it be interested and participate in public affairs, that it be informed, that it be principled, that it correctly perceive political realities, that it engage in discussion, that it judge rationally, and that it consider the community interest. Now this combination of requirements sets a high—an ideal— standard for the political process. And since this is a composite list, from a variety of sources, it is not necessarily a matter for disillusion- ment or even disappointment that the democratic electorate does not conform to every requirement in the full degree. There is always an appropriate observation from Lord Bryce: "Orthodox political theory assumes that every citizen has, or ought to have, thought out for himself certain opinions, for example, ought to have a definite view, defensible by arguments, of what the country needs, what principles ought to be applied in governing it, of the men to whose hands at AAPOR Member Access on March 8, 2016 Downloaded from
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330 PUBLIC OPINION QUARTERLY, FALL 1952 the government ought to be entrusted. There are persons who talk, though certainly very few who act, as if they believed this theory, which may be compared to the theory of some ultra-Protestants that every good
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