Citizens Unchanged

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From Shade and Brown’s articles, it seems that until recently the common man and the working class at large has been neglected by both the political elites and historians of the last 50 years. Political leaders preferred that the citizenry remain uninformed and the historians preferred to look at the political leaders as representatives for the citizenry. I see a connection here. As Brown points out, the commercial sector has become the most powerful factor in molding political and social opinions. Perhaps the newest political history is a way to better understand the “pseudomodern” present by trying to understand the significance of the disconnect between the populace and decision makers. The emphasis here is on what the people do when their representatives aren’t asking for their opinions.

I felt that Brown’s article provided an excellent end to our discussions on early American politics. It sobers us up to remind us that we aren’t so different from the citizens of yesterday and we still grapple with similar problems in a new world. In conjunction with his argument, I liked the question posed by Michael, which was “Are we Davidson students informed/critically minded to be able to choose public officials wisely?” There are many things that I can excel at where students of other schools couldn’t because of Davidson’s curriculum. However, I don’t believe most of us are truly informed enough because politics are so broad and complex. The same goes for people back in the day. They had their politicians to simplify their options the way the commercial media has done for us.

Just as we began talking about race and gender near the end of the course, Shade talks about how it should figure into the newest political history near the end of his article. The new political history had emphasized ordinary politics in these narratives. With the newest histories being written from the perspective of the disenfranchised people, we can better understand how race and gender factor into politics today.