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Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System That Shouldn't Work at All Works So Well
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Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System That Shouldn't Work at All Works So Well

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  34 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. Elections can be determined by the design of the ballot and the gerrymandered borders of a district. And yet, despite voters who choose candidates according to the boxer--brief dichotomy and politicians wh ...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published January 27th 2012 by MIT Press (MA)
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rachelm
Churchill had two great quotes about democracy, that "the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter," and that "democracy is the worst form of government, except all of the others that have been tried."

In the alternately hilarious and depressing first half of the book, the authors explore the truth behind the first quote -- that voters are dismally ignorant about many issues and make terribly flawed decisions when choosing candidates. The authors combin
...more
Peter Mcloughlin
The book explains why democracies do better despite ignorant voters, lying politicians and complex problems. the answer is in procedure. It doesn't matter that voters are ignorant. They will follow the laws if they beleive the people who made them are legitimate lawmakers. Therefore governments can carry out policy knowing the citizens won't resist as they would say in an autocracy. Hence there is less need for authoritarian measures and consequently more freedom. A free citizenry is happier an ...more
Kelly
Disclosure: The lead author is a friend and colleague (I worked in his lab in college).

This insightful and thought-provoking book explores how democracy can do such a good job of ensuring the rights, freedoms, and prosperity of the people in it even though those people often make decisions--political and otherwise--for crazy reasons. The first half of the book mainly uses information from psychology to show how people's irrationality impacts the political process in ways most of us would like no
...more
Margot
I won this book on Gooreads and I am so glad I had the chance to read it! Instead of tearing apart the democratic system Edwards and Oppenheimer examine the people who fuel the voting process. If our system is broken, they explain through clear examples, it is our fault not the fault of a democratic system. Uninformed, misguided voters select candidates based not on platforms but preconceived biases and "news" that they accept without questions. This book should be required reading for students ...more
Brian Sison
This book is basically split into two distinct parts:

Part 1 - Explains in scary detail how flawed and complicated the US democratic system is. It lists issues and contradictions in the candidates, the voting process, and even the voters themselves.

Part 2 - Explains why even despite all its warts, our US democracy is leaps and bounds more desirable than any of the alternatives. Seems like the system tends to be a self-righting ship usually headed straight ahead while being urged Left or Right by
...more
Clay
Despite all their warts, democratic countries do better than the rest by a wide margin. There are many reasons why. When people think that the governing process is fair and that they have a voice, they are more likely to voluntarily follow laws, regulations and processes. When people do this, things work better. When opposition leaders see that there is life after being power, they will be more likely to accept criticism and defeat when they are in power again, thus enhancing the virtuous circle ...more
Sarah
Bias alert: I'm married to the second author of this book.

It's an enjoyable read and surprisingly funny. You, the voter, get to be both the villain and the hero of the story.

Yep, you, me, the authors of the book -- we all make some pretty bad political decisions. But it's ok. In the end, things work out pretty great after all.
Kame
Jun 12, 2012 Kame marked it as to-read
Didn't realise this was an MIT Press book until I got it, makes me that much more excited to start it!

In compliance with FTC guidelines, I am required to disclose that I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
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