Steven Taylor has an interesting post about an idea espoused by a former professor of his to have Deliberation Day, a national holiday to help combat the ignorance of most Americans about their political system. We both agree that people are pretty ignorant about the political system but are skeptical as to the efficacy of a holiday to fix it.
While I’m not thrilled about how little interest most people have in politics, I’m not all that concerned, either. There is a concept in political science called “functional apathy” that posits that it’s actually good when citizens in a mature democracy aren’t too worked up about politics, because it shows their confidence in the system. While it makes a difference whether Bush or Kerry wins in November and whether the Republicans retain control of the Senate or the Democrats oust them, the policy changes will be marginal in the grand scheme of things. While that tends to sap the enthusiasm of the average citizen, it also means that having the other guy win isn’t going to create a massive upheaval in the system.