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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Democracy at Risk
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226520568.003.0001

The attacks on September 11, 2001, jarringly awoke the average American to the grim reality that even a major power like the United States is susceptible to international terrorism. Even several years out from 9/11, the issues of terrorism and homeland security are still salient in the country. Yet, while it appears that individuals are increasingly making political assessments, developing political attitudes, and expressing these under conditions of terrorist threats, we know little about how such crisis conditions affect citizens' preferences over domestic and foreign policies, their evaluations of leaders and the political system, and their political behavior. This book examines how the threat of terrorist attacks affects individuals across these numerous domains. Using data from both surveys and experiments, it compares citizens experiencing conditions of national security crisis (brought on by the threat of terrorism) to those experiencing other conditions, primarily times of well-being and prosperity or times of economic crisis. The book shows that the specter of terrorist threat results in attitudinal, evaluative, and behavioral shifts, some of which can potentially endanger democracy.

Keywords:   terrorism, United States, democracy, 9/11, homeland security, political behavior, political attitudes, prosperity, terrorist threat, economic crisis

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