E19 -

Ilya Somin asks, “What happens in a democracy when voters don’t know what they’re voting for or against?”

Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor
Trevor Burrus
Research Fellow, Constitutional Studies

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. Somin is a prominent blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy, focussing on issues related to democracy, federalism, and property rights.

Ilya Somin joins Aaron and Trevor for a discussion on political ignorance, which is the idea that the majority of the electorate doesn’t have enough information to make fully‐​informed political decisions, with the understanding that for most people this ignorance is perfectly rational.

The idea of democracy is that the citizens should decide how they’re governed and what policies their government adopts, and they way they do this is via the ballot box. But what if the voters are too ignorant about what makes good policy—or even about the effects of bad policy—to vote well in the first place?

Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law and is also a regular contributor at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Show Notes and Further Reading:

Ilya Somin, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter

A Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org video featuring Prof. Somin explaining political ignorance

Cato Unbound symposium on political ignorance

Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies