GOVT 1111 Term Paper 2 Voter Turnout

GOVT 1111 Term Paper 2 Voter Turnout - Electoral Decay and...

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Electoral Decay and the Ensuing Deterioration of the Political Process: An Analysis of the Ginsberg/Shefter Argument Term Paper #2 1
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people control policy and government action, but at the end of the day, it is the people whom within power rests. Indeed, this is the scenario which the Framer’s envisioned when predicting the future of our nation. Obviously the Framers were not so incoherent as to believe that there would be no diversity among beliefs and that the people would always possess a united front, but rather endorsed this idea of conflicting desires. As Madison explicitly states in the Federalist 10 (Ginsberg, 2007, 7-9), it is the very existence of factions which causes public policy to remain centrist; the volleying of multiple interest groups causes policy makers to have to moderate their own views in order to appeal to a majority of the people and retain power as a lawmaker. This concept was instrumental to the success of our government: a minority , despite being outnumbered, could still influence government policy. However, recent social sciences have brought forward quite the opposing view: rather than being productive, it is disadvantageous to vote (Ginsberg, 2007, 196) — examples lie in such social sciences as Game Theory or the Rational Choice Theory (Osborne, 2003). Whether these conclusions are correct is highly subjective to scrutiny— however, facts cannot be disputed. Since 1960 voter turnout has dropped exponentially. Furthermore, voter mobilization has also been alarmingly low in the past years (Ginsberg, Lowi, and Muir, 2009, 291). The question then arises, as to are these low levels of turnout and mobilization detrimental to the system which the Framers intended, resulting in a government where policy is derived further from the average constituent then expected? Although levels of voter turnout are not the only way to gauge democratic input and are not the only source of political decay, the reality of the decreasing percentage of voters has in fact created a “democratic republic” that no long strongly adheres to the whim of the people—in reality, nothing more than the façade of an oligarchy. In their analysis of the American government, Ginsburg and Shefter argue that the decrease in voter turnout and mobilization had indeed led to a certain level of political decay, and that furthermore this political decay has led to the function of elections as a healthy part of the political process. To test the soundness of their argument, we must first determine quite exactly what they are saying, and this begins with an analysis of what exactly “political decay” is understood to mean. If we assume that is derived from lower turnout, it is safe to say that it is the equivalent of a shrinking of the voting population. However, low mobilization implies something similar, but not exactly the same: not that the voting
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2010 for the course GOVT 1111 at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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GOVT 1111 Term Paper 2 Voter Turnout - Electoral Decay and...

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