Introduction, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, 2nd edition
DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL IGNORANCE: WHY SMALLER GOVERNMENT IS SMARTER, 2nd edition, (Stanford University Press, 2016), pp. 1-16
17 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2019 Last revised: 22 Jun 2020
Date Written: January 9, 2019
One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant about 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.
Democracy and Political Ignorance mines the depths of public ignorance in America and reveals it as a major challenge for democracy. It weighs various potential solutions, concluding that political ignorance is best mitigated and its effects lessened by decentralizing and limiting government. 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.
The second edition of Democracy and Political Ignorance fully updates its analysis to include new discussions of the “Big Sort” and its implications for “voting with your feet,” the connection between political ignorance and the disproportionate political influence of the wealthy, new proposals for increasing political knowledge, and up-to-date survey data on political ignorance from recent elections.
The Introduction outlines the core argument of the book, and provides summaries of the chapters that follow.
Keywords: Rational ignorance, elections, rational irrationality, federalism, foot voting, democracy, voting, information, information shortcuts, judicial review, miracle of aggregation, exit rights, polling, Anthony Downs, deliberative democracy, inequality, countermajoritarian difficulty, Big Sort
JEL Classification: D71, D80, H10, H11, H41, H70, H73, H77
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation