It is a truism that the issues politicians discuss in campaigns deserve study, but what about the issues they do not discuss? The question of what gets on a presidential campaign's radar screen, what does not, and why is central to understanding how effectively campaigns function as tools of self-government.
This issue of The Annals examines dimensions of these questions through articles originally commissioned for two conferences at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. If these articles together amount to a catalogue of complaints about the quality of America's presidential debate, perhaps that is to be expected. Views on what candidates ought to discuss will always lie in the eye of the beholder. What the contributors to this volume share, however, is the conviction that campaign discourse matters and that defining the campaign agenda is central to democracy.
So long as candidates seek to win 50 percent of the vote plus one, while citizens struggle to find expression of and answers for their concerns, the question "Whose campaign is it anyway?" will be with us.