Very few people in Iowa will soon caucus in that state's primaries. Political junkies feast, nevertheless.
Voter participation in the U.S. is low. Public choice economists say they know why: most people have figured out that the odds that their vote can make a difference are very low. Theorists call their disinterest "rational ignorance". Outsized influence then accrues to interest groups. Those who cannot pass up team sports also remain involved -- for the thrills.
Buchanan's "Politics without romance" represents profound insights. Bryan Caplan goes further and suggests irrational ignorance. Many of those who do vote (and/or participate somehow) embrace policies that will actually hurt them. In a recent post on his blog, Caplan opines that most Americans' politics can be described in terms of their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) -- and that can be a good thing; they espouse awful policies but their ADHD causes them to not embrace these with any tenacity. We are saved from the full consequences of the worst policy choices by a general lack of determination and follow-through.
Awful political choices have been with us through recorded history. Witness the many pointless and horrific wars. Steven Pinker sees these declining; our worst instincts are (very slowly) receding. That or mass ADHD, as we sink into in ever more tech gadget addiction.