The Myth of the Rational Voter

Kevin Drum on the “bump” phenomenon (“The Pack,” Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, 6 January 2008):

… apparently the flinty-eyed independents of New Hampshire aren’t quite as flinty-eyed as they’d like you to believe. After a solid year of town halls, coffee klatsches, and early morning doorbell ringing — because, you know, New Hampshirites take their electoral responsibilities so much more seriously than the rest of us — all it took was a few thousand Iowans to flip them from one side to the other in less than 24 hours. Feh.

This country constantly claims the world’s greatest democracy, yet on the systematic side is so riddled with anachronisms (the electoral college), half-functioning institutions (the electoral college again) and just plain bad ideas (the staggering of the primaries) and on the individual side so populated by villainy (the commentariat) and the easily led, that one wonders how we persist in our tolerance of it.

Update (9 January 2008): After the outcome of the primary, Kevin Drum retracts (“Flinty-Eyed Independents,” Political Animal, Washington Monthly, 8 January 2008):

By the way, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the state of New Hampshire for this post on Sunday. Obviously I spoke too hastily.

Whatever the people of New Hampshire did, the system is still considerably less than one would aspire to in a decent system of governance.

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