Democracy For Realist, Christopher H. Achen And Larry M. Bartels

1971 Words8 Pages
Elections Can Determine Public Policy In their book, Democracy For Realist, Christopher H. Achen and Larry M. Bartels make a demanding argument about the U.S democratic election process. In short, their statistical analysis backed by social-scientific evidence concludes that public policy in America is not determined by elections. A slap in the face to decades of political science conventional wisdom as well as to the millions who still hold faith in the strong words spoken by Abraham Lincoln, “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” (Gettysburg Address, 1863). Achen and Bartels challenge two traditional models of elections, the first being the spatial theory, the second being the retrospective voting theory, collectively referring both as the “folk theory of democracy”. Their findings, although utterly depressing, comes across as a completely true reality in this age of modern politics. That being said, this paper will attempt to refute some of their findings. In doing so the goal is to address the question, do elections determine public policy? The answer to this question has important implications for understanding and modeling policy formation in a representative democracy. From both a theoretical and practical point of view, it is important to understand if voters still have the ability to provide meaningful input into public policies, or if the government simply bypasses citizens in favor of economic elites and interest groups with strong

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