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Democracy for Realists assails the romantic folk-theory at the heart of contemporary thinking about democratic politics and government, and offers a provocative alternative view grounded in the actual human nature of democratic citizens. Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels deploy a wealth of social-scientific evidence, including ingenious original analyses of topics ranging from abortion politics and budget deficits to the Great Depression and shark attacks, to show that the familiar ideal of thoughtful citizens steering the ship of state from the voting booth is fundamentally misguided. They demonstrate that voters—even those who are well informed and politically engaged—mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly. Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. Now with new analysis of the 2016 elections, Democracy for Realists provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government.
Translation of A preface to democratic theory.
Publikumsjoker sticht Expertenmeinung. Mit unverstelltem Blick untersucht der amerikanische Autor das Phänomen der Gruppe und ihrer klugen Entscheidungen, wenn die richtigen Voraussetzungen gegeben sind. Eine aufschlussreiche, unterhaltsame Lektüre und zugleich ein kraftvoller Kontrapunkt zur gegenwärtigen Diskussion um Eliten und einzelne Meinungsführer. "Die Weisheit der Vielen" ist faszinierend, es ist eines jener Bücher, die die Welt auf den Kopf stellen.
English summary: It was Anthony Downs' objective to create a model dealing with voter and government behavior. In order to do so, he established goals which governments, parties and lobbyists as well as the voters can pursue. To motivate all those concerned, he introduced the self-interest axiom and called for rationality in order to attain these goals. With the help of marginal analysis, each voter determines his/her party differential, which will help to determine each voter's choice at the ballot box and to decide which party's rule will give him/her greater utility in the future. Downs describes how crucial the concept of ideology is to his theory. He maintains that a two-party democracy could not provide stable and effective government unless there is a large measure of ideological consensus amongst its citizens, and that political parties encouraged voters to be irrational by remaining vague and ambiguous. German description: Anthony Downs' inzwischen klassisches Demokratie-Modell des Wahler- und Regierungsverhaltens orientiert sich an der okonomischen Theorie. Er nimmt an, dass politische Parteien und Wahler in der Verfolgung bestimmter, deutlich spezifizierter Ziele optimal handeln. So treffen die Wahler unter Ungewissheit uber den Wahlvorgang und die zukunftige Regierungsbildung ihre Wahl nach dem mutmasslichen Nutzen. Die Regierung versucht, mit Hilfe der Manipulation des Budgets ihre Wiederwahl zu erreichen.Ideologien der Parteien auf der einen Seite, Interessengruppen auf der anderen stellen den Wahlern bzw. der Regierung Informationen zur rationalen Entscheidungsfindung zur Verfugung. Dabei wird deutlich, dass Mehrparteiensysteme und Verhaltniswahlrecht jedes Wahl-Kalkul unlosbar werden lassen. Auf die weiteren Folgerungen fur Demokratie-Forschung und -Verstandnis geht Downs im letzten Teil seines Werkes ausfuhrlich ein.
How is Donald Trump’s presidency likely to affect the reputation and popular standing of the Republican Party? Profoundly, according to Gary C. Jacobson. From Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama, every postwar president has powerfully shaped Americans’ feelings, positive or negative, about their party. The effect is pervasive, influencing the parties’ reputations for competence, their perceived principles, and their appeal as objects of personal identification. It is also enduring, as presidents’ successes and failures continue to influence how we see their parties well beyond their time in office. With Presidents and Parties in the Public Mind, Gary C. Jacobson draws on survey data from the past seven administrations to show that the expansion of the executive branch in the twentieth century that gave presidents a greater role in national government also gave them an enlarged public presence, magnifying their role as the parties’ public voice and face. As American politics has become increasingly nationalized and president-centered over the past few decades, the president’s responsibility for the party’s image and status has continued to increase dramatically. Jacobson concludes by looking at the most recent presidents’ effects on our growing partisan polarization, analyzing Obama’s contribution to this process and speculating about Trump’s potential for amplifying the widening demographic and cultural divide.

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