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Jonathan Bernstein

Yes, Elections Are Important, Just Not Why You Think

The “folk theory of democracy” is a myth, but that doesn’t mean voting isn’t vital to the American system.

Good job.

Good job.

Photographer: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Your must-read for this pre-election week is Jennifer Victor’s terrific item about why elections don’t do the things that most of us think that they do — and why they’re worthwhile anyway.

It’s a very, very good explanation why “accountability” and “the will of the majority” are just things that elections cannot do. Not because of the oddball (by world standards) electoral system in the U.S., and not because citizens here aren’t well-educated or smart enough, but because the world doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to try to summarize what she says; go read it.