… A romantic view of democracy would suggest that citizens in the midst of an economic crisis should monitor and evaluate the policy proposals offered by competing political elites, then use their voices and their votes to communicate meaningful preferences regarding the future course of public policy.
However, the fact of the matter is that ordinary citizens are mostly uninterested in ideological manifestos and economic theories, and skeptical of assertions about which parties “historically have delivered for them.” They are much more attentive to ends than to means, and they tend to reward or punish incumbent governments based on simple assessments of immediate success or failure. Recognizing these facts makes the political response to the Great Recession—in the U.S. and elsewhere—a good deal less perplexing than it would otherwise be. [cont. – PDF]
Larry M. Bartels, Vanderbilt University