I passed along a bunch of links this week, but the only one really worth reading is this one, by Louis Menand in the New Yorker about democracy and voters.
Why is there so much cynicism in politics? How did toejam like Dubya get elected to the highest office in the land? Why is the political campaign focused on dumbass shit instead of, say, a discussion on national interest realism v. democraticization idealism?
The answer lies in the fact that most voters don't base their voting decisions on carefully considered positions of the issues, as Menand explains in his review of various voter analysis treatises. They vote for all kinds of non-policy related reasons, which is why campaigns rely so much on symbolism and feel-good gobbledygook.
Me, I've always held the position that ill-informed folks should exercise their right to abstain from voting. Just as I don't voice my opinion on the handling of BMWs (on account of never having driven one), so too, folks who can't be bothered to keep up with current events and civil discourse really have no business in participating in the political process. Menand's piece actually makes me question my views, since it would turn out that perhaps 90% of the populace shouldn't vote.