By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy by John Gastil

By John Gastil

John Gastil demanding situations traditional assumptions approximately public opinion, elections, and political expression during this persuasive treatise on how one can revitalize the approach of consultant democracy within the usa. Gastil argues that americans have trouble constructing transparent coverage pursuits, seldom reject unrepresentative public officers, and absence a robust public voice. Our starting to be knowledge of a fallacious electoral method is inflicting elevated public cynicism and apathy. the preferred reforms, despite the fact that, will neither repair public belief nor enhance illustration. time period limits and crusade finance reforms increases turnover, yet they supply no mechanism for more desirable deliberation and responsibility. construction at the luck of citizen juries and deliberative polling, Gastil proposes bettering our present method through convening randomly chosen panels of electorate to planned for numerous days on poll measures and applicants. electorate could find out about the judgments of those citizen panels via balloting publications and probably details published on professional ballots. the outcome will be a extra consultant gov-ernment and a much less cynical public. the USA has an extended historical past of experimentation with electoral platforms, and the proposals in via renowned call for benefit severe attention and debate.

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Having developed their interests more fully, participants in a deliberative discussion are better able to evaluate candidates effectively. Once voters know how they view an issue, they are more likely to ex- Exit and Public Voice 25 amine candidates’ positions and actions on that same issue. Unrepresentative public officials stand out under such scrutiny. Moreover, to the extent that open deliberation orients discussion toward the common good, such discussion increases the likelihood that voters will support policies that they believe will serve the general public’s interests.

In other words, so long as at Why Elections Fail to Ensure Accountability 37 least some of the mass-mediated voices that citizens hear represent their own orientation, ideological citizens can “learn” stable, consistent attitudes from those elites. ”12 Ideology is not the norm for citizens. ”13 Though the pure concept of ideology may be somewhat mythical, it is still useful to estimate how many voters think along such lines. Based on a careful examination of National Election Study data, it appears that roughly half of the American electorate are “nonideological,” in that their political attitudes and behaviors show little ideological consistency.

In two dimensions, one can think of an attitude as a pie sliced into thirds—one piece favoring a policy, one piece opposing it, and one piece representing a neutral attitude. 7 “Latitude theory” suggests another way of understanding indefinite attitudes. , 2 to 6 on the same scale). In this view, attitude instability is typically just movement within this range of acceptability, and citizens are not so much indecisive as they are flexible. An open-minded person always welcomes conflicting considerations, and an ideal judgment weighs different facts, ideas, and perspectives in making a decision.

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