democracy for realists why elections do not produce responsive government

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Democracy For Realists

Author : Christopher H. Achen
ISBN : 9781400882731
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 20. 31 MB
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Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens. Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters—even those who are well informed and politically engaged—mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly. Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government.

Democracy For Realists

Author : Christopher H. Achen
ISBN : 0691169446
Genre :
File Size : 80. 82 MB
Format : PDF, ePub, Docs
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Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens. Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters--even those who are well informed and politically engaged--mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly. Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government.

Unequal Democracy

Author : Larry M. Bartels
ISBN : 0691172846
Genre :
File Size : 31. 76 MB
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The first edition of Unequal Democracy was an instant classic, shattering illusions about American democracy and spurring scholarly and popular interest in the political causes and consequences of escalating economic inequality. This revised and expanded edition includes two new chapters on the political economy of the Obama era. One presents the Great Recession as a "stress test" of the American political system by analyzing the 2008 election and the impact of Barack Obama's "New New Deal" on the economic fortunes of the rich, middle class, and poor. The other assesses the politics of inequality in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the 2012 election, and the partisan gridlock of Obama's second term. Larry Bartels offers a sobering account of the barriers to change posed by partisan ideologies and the political power of the wealthy. He also provides new analyses of tax policy, partisan differences in economic performance, the struggle to raise the minimum wage, and inequalities in congressional representation. President Obama identified inequality as "the defining challenge of our time." Unequal Democracy is the definitive account of how and why our political system has failed to rise to that challenge. Now more than ever, this is a book every American needs to read.

Uninformed

Author : Arthur Lupia
ISBN : 9780190263720
Genre : Citizenship
File Size : 34. 13 MB
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Research polls, media interviews, and everyday conversations reveal an unsettling truth: citizens, while well-meaning and even passionate about current affairs, appear to know very little about politics. Hundreds of surveys document vast numbers of citizens answering even basic questions about government incorrectly. Given this unfortunate state of affairs, it is not surprising that more knowledgeable people often deride the public for its ignorance. Some experts even think that less informed citizens should stay out of politics altogether. As Arthur Lupia shows in Uninformed, this is not constructive. At root, critics of public ignorance fundamentally misunderstand the problem. Many experts believe that simply providing people with more facts will make them more competent voters. However, these experts fail to understand how most people learn, and hence don't really know what types of information are even relevant to voters. Feeding them information they don't find relevant does not address the problem. In other words, before educating the public, we need to educate the educators. Lupia offers not just a critique, though; he also has solutions. Drawing from a variety of areas of research on topics like attention span and political psychology, he shows how we can actually increase issue competence among voters in areas ranging from gun regulation to climate change. To attack the problem, he develops an arsenal of techniques to effectively convey to people information they actually care about. Citizens sometimes lack the knowledge that they need to make competent political choices, and it is undeniable that greater knowledge can improve decision making. But we need to understand that voters either don't care about or pay attention to much of the information that experts think is important. Uninformed provides the keys to improving political knowledge and civic competence: understanding what information is important to others and knowing how to best convey it to them.

Against Democracy

Author : Jason Brennan
ISBN : 9781400882939
Genre : Philosophy
File Size : 43. 75 MB
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Most people believe democracy is a uniquely just form of government. They believe people have the right to an equal share of political power. And they believe that political participation is good for us—it empowers us, helps us get what we want, and tends to make us smarter, more virtuous, and more caring for one another. These are some of our most cherished ideas about democracy. But, Jason Brennan says, they are all wrong. In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results—and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. On the contrary, a wide range of social science research shows that political participation and democratic deliberation actually tend to make people worse—more irrational, biased, and mean. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government—epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable—may be better than democracy, and that it’s time to experiment and find out. A challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable, Against Democracy is essential reading for scholars and students of politics across the disciplines.

Follow The Leader

Author : Gabriel S. Lenz
ISBN : 9780226472133
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 87. 98 MB
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In a democracy, we generally assume that voters know the policies they prefer and elect like-minded officials who are responsible for carrying them out. We also assume that voters consider candidates' competence, honesty, and other performance-related traits. But does this actually happen? Do voters consider candidates’ policy positions when deciding for whom to vote? And how do politicians’ performances in office factor into the voting decision? In Follow the Leader?, Gabriel S. Lenz sheds light on these central questions of democratic thought. Lenz looks at citizens’ views of candidates both before and after periods of political upheaval, including campaigns, wars, natural disasters, and episodes of economic boom and bust. Noting important shifts in voters’ knowledge and preferences as a result of these events, he finds that, while citizens do assess politicians based on their performance, their policy positions actually matter much less. Even when a policy issue becomes highly prominent, voters rarely shift their votes to the politician whose position best agrees with their own. In fact, Lenz shows, the reverse often takes place: citizens first pick a politician and then adopt that politician’s policy views. In other words, they follow the leader. Based on data drawn from multiple countries, Follow the Leader? is the most definitive treatment to date of when and why policy and performance matter at the voting booth, and it will break new ground in the debates about democracy.

Democratic Authority

Author : David M. Estlund
ISBN : 1400831547
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 21. 9 MB
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Democracy is not naturally plausible. Why turn such important matters over to masses of people who have no expertise? Many theories of democracy answer by appealing to the intrinsic value of democratic procedure, leaving aside whether it makes good decisions. In Democratic Authority, David Estlund offers a groundbreaking alternative based on the idea that democratic authority and legitimacy must depend partly on democracy's tendency to make good decisions. Just as with verdicts in jury trials, Estlund argues, the authority and legitimacy of a political decision does not depend on the particular decision being good or correct. But the "epistemic value" of the procedure--the degree to which it can generally be accepted as tending toward a good decision--is nevertheless crucial. Yet if good decisions were all that mattered, one might wonder why those who know best shouldn't simply rule. Estlund's theory--which he calls "epistemic proceduralism"--avoids epistocracy, or the rule of those who know. He argues that while some few people probably do know best, this can be used in political justification only if their expertise is acceptable from all reasonable points of view. If we seek the best epistemic arrangement in this respect, it will be recognizably democratic--with laws and policies actually authorized by the people subject to them.

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