Just got back from a long trip overseas and saw the following media clips in my reader via Ben Casnocha’s blog. It comes as no surprise that many Americans are illiterate in the areas of politics, economics, etc. (Jay Leno shows this every week on his Jaywalking segments), but this video raises an intriguing question, “Would our country be better off if some people did not vote?”
In, “The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies,” author Bryan Caplan claims that democracy, as it is practiced now, cannot continue on its present course because it allows the uninformed populace to make decisions that harm the majority of the country. It is essentially, the anti-”wisdom of the crowds” argument that shows how the ignorance of many voters hurts us all. It makes sense, but is it wrong to limit voting rights? Is it un-American?
Perhaps the founding father’s were much more attune to the reality of irrational voters when they limited voting rights to land owner’s (I realize it was white land owner’s which is obviously wrong, so no need to throw out any snarky comments about that). Maybe in limiting voting rights to those who the biggest stake (land) in how the country was run they helped ensure more rational policies would be pursued by our leaders. Then again, maybe it was a way to keep the same guys in power without threat of “outsiders” voting them out. Obviously a debatable question.
What do you think? Have voting rights been extended too far? Is it actually harmful to allow certain members of the population to vote? What is the alternative to our current system?
Below are two clips that Casnocha highlighted which paint a startling picture about the state of many American voters.
First, a humorous MP3 clip from the Howard Stern Show where a reporter goes to Harlem to ask Obama supporters why they support him for President. He then proceeds to attribute McCain’s views and policies to Obama and ask whether they agree with it. For example, “Do you agree with Obama’s view on keeping the troops in Iraq to finish the war?” “Do you support Obama’s decision to pick Sarah Palin as a running mate?” The answers will amaze you.
Second, a 20/20 clip where John Stossel asks people off the street some simple questions about government and politics and finds the idea of the rational voter just might be a big myth.