Laying Bets: W Will Win

Michael Hoover hoov at
Wed Aug 16 15:14:43 PDT 2000

> Most of the bourgeois political scientists say people don't vote
> because they are contented.
> -Andy English

Not so much anymore, although some still hold above view from 1950s poli sci literature such as Eulau's article "The Politics of Happiness" & Lipset's _Political Man_. Burns & Peltason peddled such crap via now multi-edition intro US Gov't text _Government by the People_ (gag me with Moon Unit Zappa's spoon), bland mostly descriptive book offering reinforcing old assumptions. However, 'empirical' poli sci research results contrasted with contentment thesis as few folks fell into "positive apathetic" (don't recall who coined that great phrase) category.

Today, mainstream poli sci people suggest various reasons for non-voting, including social class (defined in terms of education & income). However, quick perusal of any issue of *American Political Science Review* in recent decades reveals that discipline is dominated by 'homo economicus' (built upon works of Downs, Riker, Olson, Hirschman). Thus, 'rational ignorance' (another wonderful term) has become buzz explanation for nonvoting - 'cost' (time, attention, effort) of voting outweighs benefits. Such stuff is really just ideological cover that should not be confused with (rational) refusal to exercise franchise as protest against government and (irrational) political process. Michael Hoover

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