Propaganda and Democracy

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What is the impact of propaganda on our democracy? When examining the relationship between propaganda and democracy it important to define each term. Propaganda is a protean term, its definition varies widely. The word propaganda could refer simply to an active process of mass persuasion or it could carry more negative connotations. In general, a distinction is drawn between propaganda and persuasion. Like persuasion, propaganda is designed to influence opinion rather than purely communicate fact; however, there are several important differences between the two. Persuasion utilizes critical argument and weighs all sides of an issue. On the other hand, propaganda is entirely one sided. While a persuasive message works best with a focused and active recipient, propaganda depends on a mindless audience. Propaganda manipulates symbols as well as and basic human emotions and prejudices in order to influence opinion. Democracy is the form of government in which the laws and government institutions are under the control of the people. In a democracy decisions are made by the citizens or their elected representatives. Propaganda has many effects on American Democracy. Many people claim that our democracy has been "cheapened" by the media and, in particular, propaganda. Some of the negative effects of propaganda on democracy are that it prevents discourages debate and allows people to listen only to those opinions that they agree with. One of the main goals of propaganda is to prevent critical thinking. It frequently does this by presenting only one side of an issue. Unlike debate, propaganda does not acknowledge the opposing sides' valid points. Now, compare the amounts of propaganda and debate that are a part of American politics. Take for example the presidential campaigns: through various media sources the people are exposed to a bombardment of one-sided political ads. In contrast, there are only a few short debates comparing all sides of the contest....
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