It is as I think Orwell observed worrying if we see democracy as ‘the’ answer.
how voters decide.
Indeed, voters constantly complain that initiatives are too complicated. Two out of three told the PPIC poll in December that the wording of the initiatives was confusing. But over-complex language is only one worry in a process where every statute and constitutional amendment interacts with every other to shape policy in this huge state. It raises the more general question of how large, diverse and dispersed populations filter information and arrive at decisions. “If those most likely to think they have a grasp on political information are in fact wrong,” says Ms Nalder, there may be a need to “think twice about the wisdom of direct democracy”.
The world is getting more complicated. Those who worship democracy are perhaps not dealing with how it works in practice.
So what is the solution? Well I’m not exactly clear, but the persuasion by advertisers/ political campaigners makes making a thorough educated and rational decision very difficult.
As Johann Hari wrote in his well-written article about Ed Miliband, most people don’t think too much about politics. This does leave us open to manipulation.
One of my favourite quotes is the following:
Let’s start with the words themselves. The best research indicates the average person in Britain spends two minutes a day talking or thinking about politics. It’s not because they are “thick” or “apathetic”, as some people haughtily assume. They have stretched lives. They have a lot to do. When they catch snatches of politics, it has to be clear and plainly expressed. They aren’t going to go away and google the terms.
We vote emotively not rationally, which means that most political analysis is an entire waste of time.
Democracy may be merely an approximation to a better solution, but I’m not sure what that is.
Jonah Lehrer also chimes in on the ‘ignorance of voters’.
I particularly like the phrase we are ‘rationalizing voters’ not ‘rational voters’. In recent debates I’ve had with people about Nuclear Power, I’ve seen this one occur quite a lot.
The Ignorance of voters
We truly are ridiculous creatures.