Democracy For Realists

Democracy For Realists

Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government

Book - 2016
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Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens.

Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters--even those who are well informed and politically engaged--mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly.

Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government.

Publisher: Princeton :, Princeton University Press,, 2016
ISBN: 9780691169446
Branch Call Number: 321.8 Achen
Characteristics: xvi, 390 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm
Additional Contributors: Bartels, Larry M. 1956-


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Nov 27, 2017

I didn't complete it, but I'm done with it. It's very academic.

Mar 11, 2017

This is an excellent academic book, but emphasis is definitely on the 'academic.' It presupposes a rather extensive familiarity with political science debates, terminology and positions. It is not 'chatty' or 'popular,' and is most definitely not aimed at the general public. In academic circles, it is getting well reviewed, though this does not mean it as always 100% agreed with. If you have the patience and the wit (and are willing to delve into the book's bibliography), it is an excellent primer on the huge debate of what is, what has been and what can be democracy.

Apr 21, 2016

More pure bunkem out of Princeton University Press [guess they aren't capable of anything else, huh?]!
Would refer the interested reader to Jane Mayer's outstanding book, Dark Money ||| and Donald Gibson's outstanding book: Wealth, Power, and the Crisis of Laissez Faire Capitalism ||| and David Talbot's phenomenally interesting book: The Devil's Chessboard.


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