“The Will of the People” Is a Myth | Mises Wire

While it is rarely stated explicitly, the legitimacy of the modern American electoral system is founded on the idea of majority rule. Because of this, at the conclusion of each election, the victors claim the election reflected “the will of the people” and, in many cases, also claim a “mandate” to implement the victor’s policy agenda.

This has always been a tenuous claim in every way, of course. Within the American electoral system, there is no reason to assume that a vote for candidate X is an affirmative vote for candidate X’s policy agenda. The voter’s intent may be to simply choose a less-bad option with the intent of voting against Candidate Y.

Indeed, as recent polling data from Pew shows, voters routinely report voting against other candidates as a primary motivation, rather than voting for the chosen candidate.

 

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