The new study about oligarchy that’s blowing up the Internet, explained – Vox April 19, 2014Posted by sandyclaus in Politics.
What are some criticisms of the study?
Gilens uses survey responses to represent voters’ preferences on issues, and he was criticized for this when his last book came out, in 2012. “Is it meaningful when public opinion is split between budget proposals no one understands?” wrote Harvard professor Nancy Rosenblum. UCLA professor Barbara Sinclair added, “Cutting the deficit is broadly supported, but there are few government programs — other than foreign aid — that a majority of Americans favor cutting. Sometimes it is literally impossible to follow public opinion.”
It’s also not clear that a democracy should necessarily be doing the bidding of the average voter on most issues. “The purpose of a political system is to resolve political questions in a satisfactory way … the watchword of democracy should not be responsiveness but rather accountability,” Matt Yglesias wrote.
Economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason University made a similar point: “Many lower- or middle-income voters decide to vote retrospectively over outcomes … That suggests we should judge the responsiveness of the system in terms of how well it aims toward those outputs, not whether it gives lower-income voters their preferred policy inputs.” So for instance, average people might vote on whether politicians have produced economic prosperity, not necessarily on what specific policies they chose to get there. A system that was listening to average voters, in this model, would be a system that produced prosperity, not that followed public whims on individual issues.