It’s not them; it’s us

Political theorist Jason Brennan (Georgetown) has a post up at the Princeton Press blog, explaining his view of why smart politicians say stupid things (obviously, Donald Trump inspired the post).  It’s an insightful piece, and worth thinking about.  Ilya Somin has a post over at VC offering his two cents, which is certainly valuable in light of Ilya’s work on political ignorance.

As Bret Stephens said in the WSJ recently, it takes the demos to make a demogogue.  Voters don’t necessarily have to be PhDs, or legal scholars, or policy wonks.  And it is hard to believe that rule by intellectual elites would make life better for us.  It’s good that voters come from a variety of different backgrounds and life experiences, and that each of us brings our unique perspective to the voting booth.  Most Americans are busy with other important matters in their lives and don’t have the time to become experts on every issue of public policy that is raised in our elections.  But if we are to intelligently give our consent to be governed, if we are to take seriously the idea of choosing the kind of government and representatives that we want, don’t we have an obligation to at least be more informed than we have been?  Can we at least not do quite so much to encourage a candidate to manipulate voter ignorance by appealing to the lowest common denominators of political rhetoric?  After all, think about the elected politicians you despise the most; think about all of the incompetent, ignorant, inexperienced, vulgar, pathetic, corrupt, unaccomplished people who serve in public office in our country.  They did not get to their position by accident or by birth.  We put them there.  Let’s stop doing that.






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