The political life is traditionally very complex and often people fail to understand adequately nuances of the domestic as well as international politics. Nevertheless, people cannot be excluded from the political life. In stark contrast, the active involvement of citizens in the political life of the country is an essential condition of the execution of basic human rights and liberties and democracy is impossible without the participation of citizens in the political life. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the example of the US, where the participation of citizens in the political life of the country is one of most important democratic traditions, especially when the time of elections comes. At the same time, average Americans can face serious problems, while assessing and evaluating political programs of different candidates or political parties. In such a situation, they do need the assistance of intermediaries, including media, which bridge the political elite and political forces of the country, on the one hand, and electorate, or average citizens, on the other. Hence, intermediaries are essential and their role in the political life and participation of citizens in the political life can hardly be underestimated.
On analyzing the role of intermediaries and their function in the political life, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that they perform an essential role of bridging the political forces of the country and the electorate. In this respect, it is possible to distinguish several functions performed by intermediaries. Firstly, they convey the message of political leaders and the ruling political elite to the electorate, i.e. people, citizens who have the right to vote and who, as the matter of fact, elect the political elite. In such a way, it is through intermediaries people receive clear and understandable messages from the political elite. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the original message of political leaders can be not understood properly by citizens because they are incompetent in certain issues related to political life as well as other spheres of life. In such a situation, intermediaries interpret and explain the message of political leaders to the electorate and help people to shape their opinion about the message and issues raised by political leaders.
Second, intermediaries maintain the contact with the public and convey needs and demands of the public to the political elite and decision-makers. To put it more precisely, intermediaries monitor the public opinion, they explore the current needs, wants and expectations of people. In such a way, intermediaries collect the information about the needs and expectations of people and convey it to political forces that are in power or struggle to take the power. As a result, intermediaries keep the political elite and political forces attached to the society, to average people with their needs and demands. At the same time, if political forces or political leaders fail to understand people they are doomed to failure and the intermediaries also play an important role in this regard. In fact, the intermediaries, especially media, keep political forces and political leaders in the public eye. Therefore, if people see that a political leader or political force ignore their needs they are likely to vote for another political leader or political force, while the intermediaries show the public that the political leader or force ignore their needs.
Finally, it is worth mentioning another important function of intermediaries in the political life. In fact, the intermediaries are able to develop consensus between political forces and electorate. In other words, they help political leaders and the public to match possibilities and needs of each other. For instance, political leaders cannot meet absolutely all needs of people, but the intermediaries can help the public and a political leader to define major priorities in policies conducted by the leader. As a result, the political leader and the public arrive to consensus on major issues that have to be resolved by the political leader with assistance of political forces as well as the public.
In such a way, the intermediaries generate political knowledge as the communicate the message from the political elite to the electorate and vice versa, as they explore needs and wants of the public, they convey them to the political elite and decision-makers. In this respect, the role of media is particularly significant because, today, mass media can shape the public opinion and they spread political significant issues nationwide. Thus, they can draw the public attention to certain political or non-political issues, which are still important to political forces struggling for power. As a result, the presentation of the political life in media and issues and messages conveyed by the media to the public can influence the political life and the participation of people in the political life consistently. Therefore, the participation of people in the political life becomes meaningful and people can make conscious choices while taking politically significant decisions.
However, there is certain contradiction concerning the role and functions of the intermediaries, including media. On the one hand, they facilitate and involve people into the political life as well as they facilitate communication between political forces and the electorate. On the other hand, the intermediaries, especially media, can shape and influence the public opinion. In such a context, they become not just intermediaries but rather agents who play an important part in the political life. To put it more precisely, the intermediaries can manipulate with the public opinion as well as they can influence decisions taken by political leaders using their exclusive position. For instance, media can focus on certain political issues, such as current economic problems or a war, and bombard the public with the information focused on these issues. As a result, the public shape certain opinion concerning the issue, for instance, the public raises against a war. In such a situation, politicians, who want to stay in power, have little choice but to succumb to the demands of the public, which, by the way, are also conveyed to politicians by the intermediaries.
Thus, it is obvious that the intermediaries perform an important role in the political life of the country bridging political forces and the electorate. Obviously, the intermediaries stimulate the participation of people in the political life and help political forces to understand needs and expectations of citizens. As a result, the intermediaries facilitate the communication between the political elite and the public as well as it generates political knowledge in citizens who, otherwise, would remain unaware of important political issues. At the same time, the intermediaries, especially media can shape the public opinion and become agents but not just intermediaries in the political life of the country.
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