My brilliant younger
colleague Bryan Caplan is making quite a splash with his new book, The
Myth of the Rational Voter. It is, in my opinion, the most important
book on the economics of politics to appear in the past decade.
Today’s New York Times Magazine (p. 18) features a favorable discussion, written by Gary Bass, of its theme. Here’s a whiff:
Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, has attracted
notice for raising a pointed question: Do voters have any idea what
they are doing? In his provocative new book, “The Myth of the Rational
Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies,” Caplan argues that “voters
are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational — and vote
accordingly.” Caplan’s complaint is not that special-interest groups
might subvert the will of the people, or that government might ignore
the will of the people. He objects to the will of the people itself.