Public choice economists emphasize "rational ignorance;" once we actually think about the benefits and costs of voting or similar political involvement, we see that voting is a waste of time -- unless we are part of some lobbying effort. The odds of one vote making a difference are about zero. So why bother? This explains low voter turnouts as well as low levels of voter interest -- which allows bogus arguments and claims to survive. Together, all of these results explain how and why interest groups win -- and how we get the policy outcomes that irk (and scare) us.
But there remains the riddle of why anyone not associated with an interest group bothers to vote. There are various explanations. Bryan Caplan suggests that many voters actually approve of the dumb choices offered. Another possibility involves our love team sports. The evolution and the importance of our cooperative instincts has been well documented. We have all seen numerous and bizarre examples of fan insanity at the stadium or on TV. Politics involves political parties that also pose -- and incite -- as teams. Yes, there are even cheerleaders.
We had some awful traffic tie-ups in LA last week when Pres. Obama passed through to see his money people. Major west-side thoroughfares were actually closed for several hours. "Why can't they [donors] just mail him a check?" phoned an angry, stuck-in-traffic Mrs. Gordon? Because they want to touch their man; they want to be in the room breathing the same air. Team sports.