Saturday, November 26, 2005

What's Left of Democracy....

Tom Englehardt says that
Polls are, it might be said, what's left of American democracy. Privately run, often for profit or advantage, they nonetheless are as close as we come these days -- actual elections being what they are -- to the expression of democratic opinion, serially, week after week. Everyone who matters in and out of Washington and in the media reads them as if life itself were at stake. They drive behavior and politics. Fear, too, is a poll-driven phenomenon.
He's right about the way in which many professional politicos treat polls, but he ignores the subset of "true believers," those whose views and tactics are not poll-driven. There are people of principle (including fanatics) on both sides, and they are the ones who frame the discussion, who force the polls to be taken, who design the polls to scare the politicos.

These are anti-democratic forces, and no wishful thinking about "the voice of the people" can change the fact that polls don't represent it any better than elections. No, you want to know what's left of democracy? You're reading it, friend.

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