Now and again, you read one of these “Oh my God, the voters in this country are so stupid!!!” pieces. The last one I remember was last September, and now Alexander Burns at Politico has a new one. I say what I said before: yes, there are many uninformed voters; however, it is actually very hard to be an informed voter. I mean, I think of myself as an informed voter–who doesn’t?–but the truth is to have any business making these decisions I’d have to spend all my time researching the issues. And that’s just not practical.
As I’ve said before, the alternative is to accept summaries of issues by reading a few experts, and vote based on what they tell you. But that’s also very dangerous because
- Sometimes, even experts are wrong.
- Experts are also corruptible.
- Sometimes, half the experts say one thing, and the other half say the opposite. (This is especially true in economics)
It’s easy to say “people are uninformed”. But when you think about it, it’s extremely time-consuming to be well-informed. Moreover, political parties try very hard to convince their members that the opposing parties are nothing but a lot of morons led by a few villainous overlords. Consequently, the party system ensures that both sides will always think the other, since it believes in all the opposite policies, is woefully and willfully uninformed.