What Should Ordinary Voters Know?
Comments on individual Responses are welcome. Click here if you are ready to write and submit your own Response. Only one Response per person, please. Know The System does not publish inappropriate responses. Any questions may be sent to [email protected]
Given my own knowledge, and my observations of today’s public dialogue…
what is the one topic area that I wish all voters knew a lot more about?
Jamie PrattEmeritus Business Professor
February 24th, 2019
(Economics) If more voters understood economics, maybe there’d be less unhelpful rhetoric about the evils of unequal wealth distribution, and more discussion about job creation. More specifically, people should learn about how high taxation kills incentives for investment and innovation. We need to encourage more people like Bill Gates, whose wealth creation resulted in jobs and even more economic opportunity. It’s naïve to think that economic outcomes should be equal across all parties. What’s needed is equality of opportunity.
Lisa BryantCSU, Fresno
February 10th, 2019
(Elections) That local government and local elections matter. State and local laws and policies are just as likely to impact our daily lives. Knowing where to access state and local candidate and ballot information would help immensely. Requiring ballot language to be written at no higher than a 12th grade reading level would help voters understand what they are voting on.
RocíoNational Polytechnic Institute
February 9th, 2019
(Government and economics) People must know that their welfare depends mainly of their own effort and skills. To have work is the first step. A government occupied with economic growth and job creation, is crucial. It’s important too, to obey the law.
I live in Mexico and millions of people believe that their welfare depends on the president. That he gives them money. Is because we have a populist like president. A person who don’t respect the law.
Anonymous RespondentFebruary 8th, 2019
(Climate change) I wish the topic of climate change was not partisan, and that it was believed based on the scientific facts. It feels, though, like our leaders politicize it for their own gain, even though I know they hear all the facts and see how humans are the cause of the climate change. I wish voters were presented the issue without it being political.
Rachel BitecoferFebruary 8th, 2019
(Tribalism) That everything they think, feel, and know about politics is the product of psychological manipulation with one goal: win elections.
The Independent WhigFebruary 8th, 2019
(Government) Voters don’t know the core principles of 1) process based negative liberty and 2) it’s main enemies, a) outcome based positive liberty and b) consolidated, concentrated government power.
gbasileFebruary 6th, 2019
(Government and society) What trust actually is; why it matters; how to build and invest it…
Right now we live in a society where our core institutions–such as Government, Common Society and Business, where our decisions and actions take place–are the least trusted they’ve ever been. It turns out trust is the fabric that allows for communities to co-manage their way together toward a shared sustainable future. With it, all is possible. Without it, the best you get is a win at any cost.
John CleaveFebruary 6th, 2019
(Government and ideology) I wish more people would embrace the fact that, while governance can be messy, it is necessary, even with all its blemishes. For those on the right, recognize that it serves a unique function in society and isn’t inherently evil, from protecting against the tragedy of the commons to fostering an environment in which capitalism can thrive. For those on the left, recognize that it can’t right all wrongs, there are limits to its scope and it has a tendency toward inefficiency that’s inherent in its makeup which we need to consider whenever extending its reach.
John KuoFebruary 6th, 2019
(Economics) Too many topics voters are ignorant about. Economics in some sense can encompass a great deal of these, and the lack of understanding on the current failures of the current system can be considered a primary indicator of many issues: Taxation, subsidies, corporate influence, income disparity, regulation, and the conflation of extreme kleptocratic capitalism with simple free enterprise are all economic issues that if understood and acted upon would solve many of today’s most pressing issues.
Peter LiljegrenFebruary 5th, 2019
(Civilization) Homo Sapiens became the dominant human species 70,000 years ago. Due to technologies and global integration advancing faster than social theories, economic theories and societies can adapt, our grand children will witness (but not control) within the next 200 years homo sapiens losing our dominate position to a new AI-machine-genetically perfected strain – that will probably hold most senior level management positions in major organizations. Hopefully we mitigate climate change threats by 2050; what about disruptive evolution & the quality of life?
RobertBook of Intangibles Inc
February 4th, 2019
(Government and society) The information age has created a glut of perspectives that proves almost nothing is black & white. Discerning where one truly falls on the political spectrum can sometimes require so extreme a self-analysis as to render such an exercise futile. I’ve been a registered Independent (with Libertarian leanings) for as long as I can remember, and wish the one thing voters knew/understood better was how vitally our society’s exemplary democratic process depends on informed dialogue along with respectful conversation.
Andrew SzaboFebruary 4th, 2019
(Climate change) The window of opportunity to do anything significant to head off climate change is closing quickly. Rather than embrace the momentum on this issue created by international agreements and improved renewable energy technologies, we are now sliding backward with government policy actively undermining some of the progress made. Climate is already changing dramatically and we are losing precious time while some politicians and a handful of outlier scientists deny that the change is human-caused, defending the status quo.
FromTheClamFebruary 4th, 2019
(Here, “moral foundations” is equated with “responsibility.”)
A responsible citizen understands that limited democratic government protects us against statism on the one hand, and tyranny on the other. Recognizing this balance, and the potential for drift toward one pole or the other, responsible citizens organize to make their opinions heard, they vote, and they serve their cause when called. Most importantly, responsible citizens remember that this balance between statism and tyranny–should wins come to their side too often, or too completely–will be lost.
Michael KFebruary 4th, 2019
(Government) The relationship between money and politics.
Ed SwissFebruary 4th, 2019
(Government) People should understand the importance of rule of law and the danger of conflicts of interest. Some politicians will get away with as much as they can if they think the risks of prosecution or public outcry are low. Examples (fictional and/or real) could be given showing the effects of weak rule of law, including legislative loopholes/capture, and executive aggrandizement.
Jesse ThomasFebruary 4th, 2019
(Political theory) Voters should understand why third parties can’t succeed in the US. We vote using one of the many voting systems found across the world call first-past-the-post (FPTP). This means that we vote for someone within a designated geographic area, and whichever candidate has the most votes in the area takes all (note: they do not need a majority, just the most.) Political science has very few laws, but one is that a FPTP system will ALMOST ALWAYS favor a two party system. I understand why our strong two-party system is frustrating, but consider that our electoral system’s design strongly encourages this status quo and attempting to break that by voting for a third candidate can hurt the chances of the mainstream candidate who more closely aligns with your views.
Catherine PetruszFebruary 4th, 2019
(Poverty) I wish voters understood the complex root causes of poverty, inequality and homelessness in America. The poor and homeless are almost invisible. They are blamed for being poor or homeless, as if it is a lifestyle choice. If voters understood more about poverty and homelessness, maybe the public and their representatives in government would care more, and find solutions.
Colleen ThomasFebruary 3rd, 2019
(Political parties) I’d like voters to understand how utterly entrenched our two-party system is. It’s become larger than life and impossible to alter. Like a corporate duopoly. It feeds on itself, breeding tribalism. And it shuts out alternative voices.
Tom FosterFebruary 2nd, 2019
(Moral foundations) Voters need to learn our history as a Christian nation, and that our country’s values are being chipped away. The left is trying to change the definition of morality, in contradiction to the laws of God.
Pamela BallardFebruary 2nd, 2019
(Political parties) I think it is important for voters to understand that opinions about issues have changed historically from party to party. At certain times in history, voters who think more conservatively on financial issues have voted with a specific party. Then, over time, another party may have adopted those views, but party loyalty will not allow some voters to change to a different party.
Joe BurgoFebruary 1st, 2019
(Moral foundations) I’d like the public to understand the foundations of morality as explicated by Jonathan Haidt, and how opposing sides of the debate derive from foundations that differ. Even though I disagree with the religious right, learning that their views are informed by the ethics of purity and respect for authority makes them understandable and even sympathetic to me. On the Left, we too often believe that the ethics of care and fairness are the only ones that matter, as Haidt has shown. Understanding that “those others” can be genuinely moral in an equally valid way, even when the bases of their morality differ from our own, will help us all to become less self-righteous and entrenched in our own point of view.
Christopher OjedaUniversity of Tennessee
February 1st, 2019
(Economics) Sometimes markets don’t function efficiently (what scholars refer to as market failures), and these inefficiencies create public problems that can sometimes be addressed by government. Markets fail for several reasons: monopolies, negative externalities, information failures, or public goods/common pool resources. Understanding these concepts and debating the merits of public policy in economic terms (rather than just political [who wins and loses] or moral [what is fair]) will enhance citizen’s ability to think critically about the overall role of government and whether specific policies are desirable or undesirable.
February 1st, 2019
(Foreign policy) Most of our citizens don’t appreciate how profoundly foreign policy affects their well-being. Military spending comprises the majority of the federal discretionary budget. Trade policy affects job growth (for better and for worse).
Jonathan AllenUniversity of San Francisco
February 1st, 2019
(Inequality) I think people need to know the basic trends in income and wealth changes for different groups over the past 30-40 years. How well the top 0.01% have fared versus the top 1%, top 10%, the middle class, and the working poor. In particular, the low rates of savings and poor access to money in emergencies for much of the middle class and below.