Elected officials fail to represent
January 24, 2011
If an 800-pound gorilla actually existed, it might represent the uneasily plausible political belief that with regard to big-picture economics and long-term issues of war and peace, the average person has almost no influence.
But the 400-pound version in the room is real, and to me represents the pretty obvious fact that more often than not what the voting public selects at the polls often grossly misrepresents authentic public opinion.
From gun control, minority rights, military waste, Social Security, Medicare, etc., what most of the public wants most of the time is poorly shown from, especially, national elections.
This can be hard to accept.
There are many reasons, from gerrymandering to the insidious influence of big money, which may be why God created sociology and political science.
Now the good news is that with many issues and real elections, votes matter. Despite (or because of) rigging, undue influences, and all the rest, who gets elected, retained, or thrown out has palpable results. If McGovern had won in 1972, Vietnam would have been less awful than history now records. If Gore had been awarded the presidency in 2000, the wars we're now stuck in would almost certainly not have happened.
But the bad news is that votes matter far less as a reflection of real opinion when so many of us stay home, are indifferent, willfully ignorant, or just plain uninformed.
It is no myth that for democracy to work as it should, votes should reflect real public opinion, and the public must stay informed.
Just now democracy is not working as it should.