A Flawed Attack on “Libertarian Elitism” About Voter Ignorance

Source: The Volokh Conspiracy
by Ilya Somin

“In two recent articles — an academic paper in the American Political Science Review and a popular piece in Democracy, political scientists Henry Farrell, Hugo Mercier, and Melissa Schwartzberg (FMS) try to push back against those they label as the ‘new libertarian elitists’ (primarily Brennan, Caplan, and — possibly — me). Unlike more traditional academic defenders of the wisdom of democratic decision-making, FMS properly recognize that voter ignorance is a serious problem and that — at least in many situations — it is not likely to be overcome through simple information shortcuts or ‘aggregation’ mechanisms in which voters’ errors conveniently offset each other. … Unfortunately, they misconceive key elements of the libertarians’ position, and underestimate the scale of the problem of voter ignorance. Let’s start with the charge of ‘elitism.'” (05/13/23)