in: Res Publica, Volume 20, Issue 4
Communication between political elites & the general public is suffering from information overload. The best way to remedy the problem is to improve political language. Ideology is the most 'rational' political language available: it carries information about elite decision making at a relatively modest cost. Three questions are considered: (1) Do the decisionmakers have an ideology? (2) If 'yes,' is it instrumental in the decision-making process? (3) If 'yes,' why does this ideological factor rarely reach the public? The last two questions are considered from a formal viewpoint. It is shown that ideology can be important in the private decision-making forum & disappear when the elites address the public. The private forum is dominated by the need for policy output & by the necessity for coalition formation. The adaptation of ideology to this situation depends on its articulation degree & on the coalition-formation type. Generally, the salience aspect of ideology is less likely to suffer than its position aspect. The public forum is dominated by the needs for recruiting support & legitimizing proposals. Ideology is generally too costly a device to be used for these purposes. HA.