Democracy suffers from the bad decisions made by ignorant voters.
“The surplus of quality journalism in print, on the Web, and over the air should give the public little to no excuse for being uninformed about political issues. Never before has so much raw and refined political intelligence been available at such a low cost to citizens willing to buy a cheap computer and Web connection — or pay the bus fare to the local public library.
But uninformed the people are, as Ilya Somin delineates in his subversive new book, Democracy and Political Ignorance, and their ignorance is willful!” “More media won’t solve political ignorance” - Jack Shafer, Reuters
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.
ILYA SOMIN is Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy. Somin’s work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals, including the Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Critical Review, and others. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Room for Debate website, USA Today, Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com, Newark Star Ledger, Orlando Sentinel, South China Morning Post, Legal Times, National Law Journal and Reason. He has been quoted or interviewed by the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, and the Voice of America, among other media. He recently testified on the use of drones for targeted killing in the War on Terror before the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. In July 2009, he testified on property rights issues at the United States Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Somin writes regularly for the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog.
Somin was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was six years old.
The politically ignorant make bad decisions when voting.
Political ignorance is willful.
Please join us for a most provocative discussion.
Books will be available for purchase and signing by the author
Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 7:30pm
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