Walt Whitman once wrote that he didn't want an art that could decide presidential elections; he wanted an art to make them irrelevant. He was interested in an artist's ability to determine the feel of American experience; to become a part of the instinctive response of the people to events; to affect the costs and the quality of everyday life.
[...] He thought that his work might affect whether his country would grow, and die, and start over again; whether his country would, at the margins of change, maintain a soul and a vitality that could be recognised, loved, and feared more easily than it could be defined.
[...] Whitman thought that limits were undemocratic. As good democrats, we fight it out within the limits of his ambition.