Democracy and Political Ignorance

Why Smaller Government Is Smarter, Second Edition
Author: Ilya Somin
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 0804799350
Category: Law
Page: 312
View: 8430

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One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant of politics and government. Many people understand that their votes are unlikely to change the outcome of an election and don't see the point in learning much about politics. This creates a nation of people with little political knowledge and little ability to objectively evaluate what they do know. The second edition of Democracy and Political Ignorance fully updates its analysis to include new and vital discussions on the implications of the "Big Sort" for politics, the link between political ignorance and the disproportionate political influence of the wealthy, assessment of proposed new strategies for increasing political knowledge, and up-to-date survey data on political ignorance during recent elections. Ilya Somin mines the depths of the current state of ignorance in America and reveals it as a major problem for democracy. He weighs various options for solving this problem, provocatively arguing that political ignorance is best mitigated and its effects lessened by decentralizing and limiting government. People make better decisions when they have stronger incentives to acquire relevant information—and to use it wisely.

Democracy and Political Ignorance

Why Smaller Government Is Smarter
Author: Ilya Somin
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 0804789312
Category: Law
Page: 280
View: 7853

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One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant of politics and government. Often, many people understand that their votes are unlikely to change the outcome of an election and don't see the point in learning much about politics. This may be rational, but it creates a nation of people with little political knowledge and little ability to objectively evaluate what they do know. In Democracy and Political Ignorance, Ilya Somin mines the depths of ignorance in America and reveals the extent to which it is a major problem for democracy. Somin weighs various options for solving this problem, arguing that political ignorance is best mitigated and its effects lessened by decentralizing and limiting government. Somin provocatively argues that people make better decisions when they choose what to purchase in the market or which state or local government to live under, than when they vote at the ballot box, because they have stronger incentives to acquire relevant information and to use it wisely.

Democracy and Political Ignorance

Why Smaller Government Is Smarter, Second Edition
Author: Ilya Somin
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 0804799318
Category: Law
Page: 307
View: 9195

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One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant of politics and government. Many people understand that their votes are unlikely to change the outcome of an election and don't see the point in learning much about politics. This creates a nation of people with little political knowledge and little ability to objectively evaluate what they do know. The second edition of Democracy and Political Ignorance fully updates its analysis to include new and vital discussions on the implications of the "Big Sort" for politics, the link between political ignorance and the disproportionate political influence of the wealthy, assessment of proposed new strategies for increasing political knowledge, and up-to-date survey data on political ignorance during recent elections. Ilya Somin mines the depths of the current state of ignorance in America and reveals it as a major problem for democracy. He weighs various options for solving this problem, provocatively arguing that political ignorance is best mitigated and its effects lessened by decentralizing and limiting government. People make better decisions when they have stronger incentives to acquire relevant information—and to use it wisely.

A Conspiracy Against Obamacare

The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case
Author: R. Barnett,J. Adler,D. Bernstein,O. Kerr,D. Kopel,I. Somin
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 1137363738
Category: Political Science
Page: 294
View: 5864

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The Affordable Care Act debate was one of the most important and most public examinations of the Constitution in our history. At the forefront of that debate were the bloggers of the Volokh Conspiracy who, from before the law was even passed, engaged in a spirited, erudite, and accessible discussion of the legal issues involved in the case.

The Big Sort

Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American is Tearing Us Apart
Author: Bill Bishop
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 0547525192
Category: Political Science
Page: 384
View: 681

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In 2004, journalist Bill Bishop coined the term "the big sort." Armed with startling new demographic data, he made national news in a series of articles showing how Americans have been sorting themselves into alarmingly homogeneous communities -- not by region or by state, but by city and even neighborhood. Over the past three decades, we have been choosing the neighborhood (and church and news show) compatible with our lifestyle and beliefs. The result is a country that has become so polarized, so ideologically inbred that people don't know and can't understand those who live a few miles away. How this came to be, and its dire implications for our country, is the subject of this ground-breaking work. In The Big Sort, Bishop has taken his analysis to a new level. He begins with stories about how we live today and then draws on history, economics and our changing political landscape to create one of the most compelling big-picture accounts of America in recent memory.

Against Democracy

New Preface
Author: Jason Brennan
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400888395
Category: Philosophy
Page: 312
View: 5431

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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. Featuring a new preface that situates the book within the current political climate and discusses other alternatives beyond epistocracy, Against Democracy is a challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable.

Our Republican Constitution

Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People
Author: Randy E. Barnett
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 0062412302
Category: Political Science
Page: 320
View: 2659

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A concise history of the long struggle between two fundamentally opposing constitutional traditions, from one of the nation’s leading constitutional scholars—a manifesto for renewing our constitutional republic. The Constitution of the United States begins with the words: “We the People.” But from the earliest days of the American republic, there have been two competing notions of “the People,” which lead to two very different visions of the Constitution. Those who view “We the People” collectively think popular sovereignty resides in the people as a group, which leads them to favor a “democratic” constitution that allows the “will of the people” to be expressed by majority rule. In contrast, those who think popular sovereignty resides in the people as individuals contend that a “republican” constitution is needed to secure the pre-existing inalienable rights of “We the People,” each and every one, against abuses by the majority. In Our Republican Constitution, renowned legal scholar Randy E. Barnett tells the fascinating story of how this debate arose shortly after the Revolution, leading to the adoption of a new and innovative “republican” constitution; and how the struggle over slavery led to its completion by a newly formed Republican Party. Yet soon thereafter, progressive academics and activists urged the courts to remake our Republican Constitution into a democratic one by ignoring key passes of its text. Eventually, the courts complied. Drawing from his deep knowledge of constitutional law and history, as well as his experience litigating on behalf of medical marijuana and against Obamacare, Barnett explains why “We the People” would greatly benefit from the renewal of our Republican Constitution, and how this can be accomplished in the courts and the political arena.

The Ethics of Voting


Author: Jason Brennan
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691154449
Category: Philosophy
Page: 216
View: 645

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Nothing is more integral to democracy than voting. Most people believe that every citizen has the civic duty or moral obligation to vote, that any sincere vote is morally acceptable, and that buying, selling, or trading votes is inherently wrong. In this provocative book, Jason Brennan challenges our fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing why it is not a duty for most citizens--in fact, he argues, many people owe it to the rest of us not to vote. Bad choices at the polls can result in unjust laws, needless wars, and calamitous economic policies. Brennan shows why voters have duties to make informed decisions in the voting booth, to base their decisions on sound evidence for what will create the best possible policies, and to promote the common good rather than their own self-interest. They must vote well--or not vote at all. Brennan explains why voting is not necessarily the best way for citizens to exercise their civic duty, and why some citizens need to stay away from the polls to protect the democratic process from their uninformed, irrational, or immoral votes. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to vote. This book reveals why sometimes it's best if they don't. In a new afterword, "How to Vote Well," Brennan provides a practical guidebook for making well-informed, well-reasoned choices at the polls.

The Grasping Hand

"Kelo v. City of New London" and the Limits of Eminent Domain
Author: Ilya Somin
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022645682X
Category: Law
Page: 384
View: 6503

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In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut, could condemn fifteen residential properties in order to transfer them to a new private owner. Although the Fifth Amendment only permits the taking of private property for “public use,” the Court ruled that the transfer of condemned land to private parties for “economic development” is permitted by the Constitution—even if the government cannot prove that the expected development will ever actually happen. The Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London empowered the grasping hand of the state at the expense of the invisible hand of the market. In this detailed study of one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases in modern times, Ilya Somin argues that Kelo was a grave error. Economic development and “blight” condemnations are unconstitutional under both originalist and most “living constitution” theories of legal interpretation. They also victimize the poor and the politically weak for the benefit of powerful interest groups and often destroy more economic value than they create. Kelo itself exemplifies these patterns. The residents targeted for condemnation lacked the influence needed to combat the formidable government and corporate interests arrayed against them. Moreover, the city’s poorly conceived development plan ultimately failed: the condemned land lies empty to this day, occupied only by feral cats. The Supreme Court’s unpopular ruling triggered an unprecedented political reaction, with forty-five states passing new laws intended to limit the use of eminent domain. But many of the new laws impose few or no genuine constraints on takings. The Kelo backlash led to significant progress, but not nearly as much as it may have seemed. Despite its outcome, the closely divided 5-4 ruling shattered what many believed to be a consensus that virtually any condemnation qualifies as a public use under the Fifth Amendment. It also showed that there is widespread public opposition to eminent domain abuse. With controversy over takings sure to continue, The Grasping Hand offers the first book-length analysis of Kelo by a legal scholar, alongside a broader history of the dispute over public use and eminent domain and an evaluation of options for reform.

Deliberative Systems

Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale
Author: John Parkinson,Jane Mansbridge
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1139536974
Category: Political Science
Page: N.A
View: 1337

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'Deliberative democracy' is often dismissed as a set of small-scale, academic experiments. This volume seeks to demonstrate how the deliberative ideal can work as a theory of democracy on a larger scale. It provides a new way of thinking about democratic engagement across the spectrum of political action, from towns and villages to nation states, and from local networks to transnational, even global systems. Written by a team of the world's leading deliberative theorists, Deliberative Systems explains the principles of this new approach, which seeks ways of ensuring that a division of deliberative labour in a system nonetheless meets both deliberative and democratic norms. Rather than simply elaborating the theory, the contributors examine the problems of implementation in a real world of competing norms, competing institutions and competing powerful interests. This pioneering book will inspire an exciting new phase of deliberative research, both theoretical and empirical.

Reclaiming Our Democracy

Healing the Break Between People and Government
Author: Sam Daley-Harris
Publisher: Camino Books
ISBN: 9781933822846
Category: Political Science
Page: 285
View: 8574

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Most people see working to end global poverty and ensure a stable climate as a fool's errand. Add to that the Citizens United decision and the flood of money rushing into politics and the despair grows deeper. But activist and author Sam Daley-Harris has helped thousands of ordinary citizens transform from hopeless bystanders to powerful advocates. This 20th anniversary edition has a new chapter on the groundbreaking work of Citizens Climate Lobby, an increasingly powerful new advocacy group following the RESULTS model, and another new chapter on the Center for Citizen Empowerment and Transformation, a new initiative focused on spreading the original concepts developed by RESULTS.

What Americans Know about Politics and why it Matters


Author: Michael X. Delli Carpini,Scott Keeter
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300072754
Category: History
Page: 397
View: 1850

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Drawing on new data from extensive surveys, two leading experts in the study of public opinion and political behaviour provide a comprehensive analysis of the American public's knowledge of politics.

Denying to the Grave

Why We Ignore the Facts That Will Save Us
Author: Sara E. Gorman,Lieber Professor and Vice-Chair for Research Department of Psychiatry College of Physicians and Surgeons Jack M Gorman, M.D.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199396604
Category:
Page: 328
View: 7199

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Why do some parents refuse to vaccinate their children? Why do some people keep guns at home, despite scientific evidence of risk to their family members? And why do people use antibiotics for illnesses they cannot possibly alleviate? When it comes to health, many people insist that science is wrong, that the evidence is incomplete, and that unidentified hazards lurk everywhere. In Denying to the Grave, Gorman and Gorman, a father-daughter team, explore the psychology of health science denial. Using several examples of such denial as test cases, they propose six key principles that may lead individuals to reject "accepted" health-related wisdom: the charismatic leader; fear of complexity; confirmation bias and the internet; fear of corporate and government conspiracies; causality and filling the ignorance gap; and the nature of risk prediction. The authors argue that the health sciences are especially vulnerable to our innate resistance to integrate new concepts with pre-existing beliefs. This psychological difficulty of incorporating new information is on the cutting edge of neuroscience research, as scientists continue to identify brain responses to new information that reveal deep-seated, innate discomfort with changing our minds. Denying to the Grave explores risk theory and how people make decisions about what is best for them and their loved ones, in an effort to better understand how people think when faced with significant health decisions. This book points the way to a new and important understanding of how science should be conveyed to the public in order to save lives with existing knowledge and technology.

The Conscience of the Constitution

The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty
Author: Timothy Sandefur
Publisher: Cato Institute
ISBN: 1939709040
Category: Law
Page: 242
View: 6121

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The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty documents a forgotten truth: the word “democracy” is nowhere to be found in either the Constitution or the Declaration. But it is the overemphasis of democracy by the legal community–rather than the primacy of liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence–that has led to the growth of government power at the expense of individual rights. Now, more than ever, Sandefur explains, the Declaration of Independence should set the framework for interpreting our fundamental law. In the very first sentence of the Constitution, the founding fathers stated unambiguously that “liberty” is a blessing. Today, more and more Americans are realizing that their individual freedoms are being threatened by the ever-expanding scope of the government. Americans have always differed over important political issues, but some things should not be settled by majority vote. In The Conscience of the Constitution, Timothy Sandefur presents a dramatic new challenge to the status quo of constitutional law.

Democracy Despite Itself

Why a System That Shouldn't Work at All Works So Well
Author: Danny Oppenheimer,Mike Edwards
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262300958
Category: Political Science
Page: 256
View: 7853

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Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. Elections can be determined by the design of the ballot and the gerrymandered borders of a district. And yet, despite voters who choose candidates according to the boxer--brief dichotomy and politicians who struggle to put together a coherent sentence, democracy works exceptionally well: citizens of democracies are healthier, happier, and freer than citizens of other countries. In Democracy Despite Itself, Danny Oppenheimer, a psychologist, and Mike Edwards, a political scientist, explore this paradox: How can democracy lead to such successful outcomes when the defining characteristic of democracy -- elections -- is so flawed?Oppenheimer and Edwards argue that democracy works because regular elections, no matter how flawed, produce a variety of unintuitive, positive consequences. The brilliance of democracy, write Oppenheimer and Edwards, does not lie in the people's ability to pick superior leaders. It lies in the many ways that it subtly encourages the flawed people and their flawed leaders to work toward building a better society.

Politics and Vision

Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought
Author: Sheldon S. Wolin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400883539
Category: Political Science
Page: 792
View: 5669

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Politics and Vision is a landmark work by one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. This is a significantly expanded edition of one of the greatest works of modern political theory. Sheldon Wolin's Politics and Vision inspired and instructed two generations of political theorists after its appearance in 1960. Substantially expanded for republication in 2004, it is both a sweeping survey of Western political thought and a powerful account of contemporary predicaments of power and democracy. In lucid and compelling prose, Sheldon Wolin offers original, subtle, and often surprising interpretations of political theorists from Plato to Rawls. Situating them historically while sounding their depths, he critically engages their diverse accounts of politics, theory, power, justice, citizenship, and institutions. The new chapters, which show how thinkers have grappled with the immense possibilities and dangers of modern power, are themselves a major theoretical statement. They culminate in Wolin’s remarkable argument that the United States has invented a new political form, "inverted totalitarianism,“ in which economic rather than political power is dangerously dominant. In this expanded edition, the book that helped to define political theory in the late twentieth century should energize, enlighten, and provoke generations of scholars to come. Wolin originally wrote Politics and Vision to challenge the idea that political analysis should consist simply of the neutral observation of objective reality. He argues that political thinkers must also rely on creative vision. Wolin shows that great theorists have been driven to shape politics to some vision of the Good that lies outside the existing political order. As he tells it, the history of theory is thus, in part, the story of changing assumptions about the Good. Acclaimed as a tour de force when it was first published, and a major scholarly event when the expanded edition appeared, Politics and Vision will instruct, inspire, and provoke for generations to come.

Democracy for Realists

Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government
Author: Christopher H. Achen,Larry M. Bartels
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400888743
Category: Political Science
Page: 408
View: 2137

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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. Now with new analysis of the 2016 elections, 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.

The Righteous Mind

Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
Author: Jonathan Haidt
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 0307455777
Category: Philosophy
Page: 500
View: 4849

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Presents a groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality at the core of religion and politics, offering scholarly insight into the motivations behind cultural clashes that are polarizing America.

Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics


Author: Terry Golway
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0871407922
Category: History
Page: 400
View: 7836

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“Golway’s revisionist take is a useful reminder of the unmatched ingenuity of American politics.”—Wall Street Journal History casts Tammany Hall as shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft and patronage personified by notoriously crooked characters. In his groundbreaking work Machine Made, journalist and historian Terry Golway dismantles these stereotypes, focusing on the many benefits of machine politics for marginalized immigrants. As thousands sought refuge from Ireland’s potato famine, the very question of who would be included under the protection of American democracy was at stake. Tammany’s transactional politics were at the heart of crucial social reforms—such as child labor laws, workers’ compensation, and minimum wages— and Golway demonstrates that American political history cannot be understood without Tammany’s profound contribution. Culminating in FDR’s New Deal, Machine Made reveals how Tammany Hall “changed the role of government—for the better to millions of disenfranchised recent American arrivals” (New York Observer).

Lawless

The Obama Administration's Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law
Author: David E. Bernstein
Publisher: Encounter Books
ISBN: 1594038341
Category: Law
Page: 216
View: 4309

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In Lawless, George Mason University law professor David E. Bernstein provides a lively, scholarly account of how the Obama administration has undermined the Constitution and the rule of law. Lawless documents how President Barack Obama has presided over one constitutional debacle after another—Obamacare; unauthorized wars in the Middle East; attempts to strip property owners, college students, religious groups, and conservative political activists of their rights; and many more. Violating his own promises to respect the Constitution’s separation of powers, Obama brazenly ignores Congress when it won’t rubber-stamp his initiatives. “We can’t wait,” he intones when amending Obamacare on the fly or signing a memo legalizing millions of illegal immigrants, as if Congress doing its job as a coequal branch of government somehow permits the president to rule like a dictator, free from the Constitution’s checks and balances. President Obama has also presided over the bold and rampant lawlessness of his underlings. Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.” When confronted with allegations that his administration’s actions are illegal, Obama responds, “So sue me.” Lawless shows how President Obama has betrayed not only the Constitution but also his own stated principles. In the process, he has done serious and potentially permanent damage to our constitutional system. As America swings into election season, it will have to grapple with finding a president who can repair Obama’s lawless legacy.