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The Malleable Public

The Malleable Public

(p.56) Chapter Four The Malleable Public
Campaign Finance and American Democracy
David M. PrimoJeffrey D. Milyo
University of Chicago Press

In this chapter Primo and Milyo analyze how values intersect with partisanship and ideology in shaping public attitudes on campaign finance in the post-Citizens United era. Using survey questions and experiments from the 2015 and 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, Primo and Milyo show that Americans tend to have libertarian views toward political participation (i.e., value freedom), but these libertarian tendencies can be undone by framing an activity in terms of money and influence as opposed to speech and participation, or by focusing on disfavored groups. For example, Democrats are twice as likely to defend the speech rights of Ben & Jerry’s compared with ExxonMobil. In short, the rhetoric of money as a corrupting force is powerful enough to swing public opinion dramatically. The public, in other words, is malleable.

Keywords:   liberty, equality, free speech, corporations, framing effects, constitutional amendment, campaign finance, Citizens United

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