Can the citizens of a democracy be trusted to run it properly?
Modern political science has concentrated on cataloguing voters' failings-their lack of knowledge, tolerance, or consistency in political thinking. While it would be a mistake to think this portrait of citizens is simply wrong, it is a deeper mistake to accept it as a satisfactory likeness. In this book, Paul Sniderman demonstrates that a concentration on the pathologies of citizens' political thinking has obscured the intense clash of opposing belief systems in the electorate. He shows how a concentration on racism has distorted understanding of the politics of race by keeping out of sight those who think well of black Americans. And he exposes the fallacy of spotlighting the dangers of mass politics while ignoring those of elite politics.
Paul M. Sniderman is the Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr., Professor in Public Policy and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is coauthor most recently of Paradoxes of Liberal Democracy: Islam, Western Europe, and the Danish Cartoon Crisis.