Americans united...in displeasure with the government

Does a democratically elected government follow the people's wishes? Around here we tend to argue that politicians follow their own wishes instead - and here's some evidence:

Schiavo Case Unexpectedly Unites Americans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Terri Schiavo case has had the unexpected effect of uniting most Americans, whether Republicans or Democrats, around a consensus that the government should stay out of families' life and death decisions.

"You don't see many 80 percents in polls nowadays," said pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center.

He was referring to a CBS poll last week which found that 82 percent of Americans felt Congress should have stayed out of Schiavo's case...The poll also showed 75 percent of respondents said end-of-life issues were not the province of government. Another poll this month by Time magazine found that 70 percent of respondents thought President Bush should not have intervened in the case and 65 percent said he and Congress were motivated more by politics than values and principles.
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In a country bitterly divided between Republican "red states" and Democratic "blue states," many citizens seemed angry with both parties and have made up their own minds, pollster John Zogby said. Republicans who uphold principles of limited government, states' rights and the sanctity of the marital bond were upset their leaders had become involved. Democrats seemed upset that their leaders had mostly stayed silent on the issue.

"America has united on this under the banner of 'a pox on both your houses.' This is an intensely personal issue and people of all political stripes were repulsed at the idea of the government getting involved," Zogby said.

Not only is Voice less immediate in general than Exit, it is far less immediate when it is only expressed every few years in elections, and with few alternatives. It doesn't take market anarchism to address this: things would be far better in a purely representative democracy, where everyone chooses (and can quickly change) a proxy individual to vote for them.

The public dissent would have created great incentive for people to shift their proxies to people with similar views to their current proxy, except for on Schiavo-type intervention. Representatives would see this, and many would change their own policies, so as not to lose their constituents. Every marginal "vote" would have marginal influence, rather than excess votes beyond majority being irrelevant.

Voice and Exit together - now that's what I call democracy. Choosing between a few candidates in each race every four years is hardly worthy of the name.

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When you poll the public

When you poll the public what do you get? You get a current reading of the public's ignorance. In this case, the public has revealed its ignorance of the casus belli in the Schiavo case: the eagerness of the state (personified in this case by a Florida State judge) to deprive a human being who was not terminally ill of her life, on the testimony of her unfaithful spouse and some of his friends.

If best is the enemy of

If best is the enemy of better, maybe Exit is the enemy of better Voice? Maybe anarcho-capitalists should use the anarcho-capitalist ideal of purely only consentual obligations as a yardstick for reforming a flawed democracy? If direct democracy is closer to pure anarchism than what we have now, there must be some other policy we could advocate as stepping stone to that, perhaps proportional representation or instant runoff voting and stronger federalism.

The politicians in this case

The politicians in this case are still following the "people's wishes", but since the people are not a unitary entity with one set of wishes, we have to first ask: which set of people? Answer: the fundamentalist conservative base, who take this as a expressive pro-life act, even though it doesn't have much to do with the relevant contemporary debate over abortion or even assisted suicide. I don't think the Republican leadership would have made such a big issue out of this if they didn't think they could benefit from it politically. By the time the next election cycle rolls around, the vast majority of voters will have forgotten about Schiavo or will find other issues that are more important to them than their displeasure with congressional intervention. And the religious base will have already gotten what they wanted - a nod that their values still hold sway over the Republican leadership.

Not only is Voice less

Not only is Voice less immediate in general than Exit, it is far less immediate when it is only expressed every few years in elections, and with few alternatives. It doesn’t take market anarchism to address this: things would be far better in a purely representative democracy, where everyone chooses (and can quickly change) a proxy individual to vote for them.

I suppose that depends on one's definition of "better." The political market would be more responsive, yes, but that might result in voters being better able to bilk each other out of money.