Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter

Stanford University Press

Book Forum
November 6, 2013 12:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the author Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, George Mason University; with comments by John Sides, Associate Professor of Political Science, George Washington University; moderated by John Samples, Director, Center for Representative Government, Cato Institute.

One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant of politics and government. Many people understand that their votes are unlikely to change the outcome of an election and don’t see the point in learning much about politics. This may be rational, but it creates a nation of people with little political knowledge and little ability to objectively evaluate what they do know. Ilya Somin examines political ignorance in America and the problems it poses for democracy. He looks at various options for solving this problem, arguing that political ignorance is best mitigated and its effects lessened by decentralizing and limiting government. Somin provocatively argues that people make better decisions when they choose what to purchase in the market or which state or local government to live under, than when they vote at the ballot box, because they have stronger incentives to acquire relevant information and to use it wisely. Please join us for a lively discussion of this important new book.