Thursday, September 09, 2004

Democracy in the US

Russell Brown does his best to convince that the state of democracy and politics in the US is abysmal.

I am not convinced in the least.

Firstly, if what he believes to be true of the American voter is actually true then it is true for all voters in all countries. We are after all of the same species. Unless Russell Brown believes that there is something peculiarly incompetent with the many, many ethnic groups that make up the US population.

Whatever foibles the US system of democratic government has we must all share. So to disparaging US voters is to disparage all human attempts at liberal democracy. The People are not deserving of democracy - which is where you get to if one follows some of the lines of argument in the article Russell quotes from.

But actually, and this is my second point, the article does not conclude this, it does not support Russell's claim that democracy in the US is on the ropes.

It presents a number of views in voter behviour and concludes:
Man may not be a political animal, but he is certainly a social animal. Voters do respond to the cues of commentators and campaigners, but only when they can match those cues up with the buzz of their own social group. Individual voters are not rational calculators of self-interest (nobody truly is), and may not be very consistent users of heuristic shortcuts, either. But they are not just random particles bouncing off the walls of the voting booth. Voters go into the booth carrying the imprint of the hopes and fears, the prejudices and assumptions of their family, their friends, and their neighbors. For most people, voting may be more meaningful and more understandable as a social act than as a political act.
Hardly the Death of Democracy that Russell is so insistant is happening in the US.


Blogger Greyshade said...

Then again - US election turnouts are much lower than NZ (and most other democracies). And I hope most New Zealanders could name their local MP (I could be wrong). That doesn't mean that Americans are inherently stupid or apathetic but it may mean their "system" isn't working very well or it may be someting to do with their media. If you can pick up Prime and are an habitual insomniac just look at a couple of hours of Fox and compare with BBC World.

9 September 2004 at 4:23 PM  

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