On October 7, 2003, the 2003 California recall resulted in Governor Gray Davis being recalled with 55.4% of the Yes vote. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California under the second question on the ballot. On this day, a large majority of the world population discovered, astonished, how a former Austrian-born popular actor could become the first man of the wealthiest state of the United States of America. This election, which could be for many people a simple anecdote, is full of interesting symbols: First, it is the evidence that a well-known actor, which occupation is far away from politics, can almost instantly have access to high political responsibilities. Second, we can note that this recall has been ordered by Californian citizens, who disclaimed Mr. Davis (a politician) in favour of a novice, Mr. Schwarzenegger. Finally, this election was interesting concerning communication and personalized politics; we can remain Gubernator appearing on a podium with a broom, with simplistic watchwords about state spending cuts. Yet, this is not the first time that an actor had access to high political functions : The most famous example was of course Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, but other examples are less known : in India for instance, fifty actors and actress and twenty sportspersons were elected in fifty-six years of independence . These examples prove that democracy is evolving, on a rhythm which is modelled on the one of the media. Campaigns, persuasion and political leadership have been undoubtedly mixed with the power of media over the past decades, such as we can wonder about the nature of politics nowadays: watching a political program or a debate gives to many people the feeling that the political reality is far away from its ideal.
[...] By analyzing the trends that we have described before, the first opinion that many people have when dealing about “show-business politics” is a fright for democracy. We can perceive indeed the recent evolutions of politics as a retreat from democracy, since the debate is more and more focused on details like appearance, private life of candidates or other details that are not directly linked with politics. People, media and politics are emphasizing details that have nothing to do with political debates, to the detriment of citizenship and life improvement. [...]
[...] Garbled campaigns In order to understand the dynamics we studied before, that is to say a general blurring between Media, Politics with communication as a keyword, it seems relevant to analyze the implications during campaigns and elections, which remain the process that most centrally defines a political system as democratic. It is important to note that processes of modernization, which have been observed in media and society, have led to transformations in the way the political system presents itself to the public. [...]
[...] Bibliography: - Maarek, P. J. and Wolfsleld, G., Political Communication in a New Era, A cross-national perspective, Routledge - Bennett, W. L. and Entman, R. B., Mediated Politics, Communication in the Future of Democracy, Cambridge University Press - Dye, T. R. and Zeigler, H., The Irony of Democracy, An Uncommon Introduction to American Politics, Harcourt Brace College - Mukherjee, J., Celebrity, [...]
[...] It seems as if the Media are looking for new missions, in order to captivate new audiences; now, their investigation territories are not linked with politics and policies, but with private life of politicians, or things that are “easily understandable” by the majority of spectators. We can take the example of Television to illustrate this statement; Televisions and Politics are a major theme of research for political communication thinkers, and it can easily be ranked as a big milestone for democracy. [...]
[...] Thus, mediatisation of politics would not only be the result of a coincidence between the power of media and the need for legitimation of politics; it would be a testifying that people keep on interesting in politics, when new resources are offered to them. Finally, it seems hard to say that the transformations lived by political communication over the past decades have been profitable for democracy: Citizenship participation tends to decline in democratic countries, and citizens seem to be seeking other ways of involving in civic society, a kind of “politics without politics”. [...]
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