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Do Americans Know Enough to Form Meaningful Opinions About Important Policy Issues?
Different categories of people have different knowledge about policy issues, and this is quite natural, in fact. The question is whether ordinary people need the same access to information as political experts. The truth is any regime is supported by public opinion (Lowi, 2011, p.360). Public opinion is not always shaped directly by presenting detailed information on all issues to the voters. Instead, candidates prefer to use slogans and theses, which are simplified and more comprehensive. To gain the support of the public is the primary purpose, so this is why excess information on any issue can intimidate the voters. Thus, politicians are very cautious about informing people of the major issues; as a result, they are not informed enough but are already biased.
The issue about public opinion is that it works both ways. On the one hand, policy makers should take people’s ideas and thoughts into account, on the other hand, their task is to shape this public opinion. In any case, it is always generalized, so this is why Americans are not well informed on the major issues. In order to remain moderate and satisfy all groups, the statements should be vague. At the same time, public opinion works at the level of individuals too (p. 363). It is even more complicated to take into account the person’s individual beliefs, background, religion, etc, which shape their outlook. Individuals can assess public policies, in the way they can support or oppose them, or they can evaluate the economic situation (p. 368). In any case, the situation is that public opinion can function based on subjective factors without having enough objective information.