Throughout the history of the U.S., voting has been a very important part of the way that our country is run, because voting has been very important so then has been public opinion. The founding fathers were afraid of the opinions of a misinformed or ignorant public. Due to this fear they set up checks on public opinion such as the Electoral College.
In this way it shows that in the 1700s as in the present that public opinion is very important and confusing. The authors Walter Lippmann, V.O. Key, Jr., George Gallup, James Prothro, and Charles Grigg all believe that public opinion is very important for the effect it as on the government.
In Walter Lippmann’s article “The Pseudo-Environment of Public Opinion” Lippmann believes that public opinion is very important because it can negatively sway how the government acts.
He believes that public opinion can be swayed all too easily by the passions. In addition to that, Lippmann also believes that the public’s perception of the world is not accurate in relation to the way that the world really is. Lippmann believes that the general public is ignorant so that for public opinion to be valid the public would have to be better educated. This article indicates that even if public opinion is misinformed or swayed by the passions it is still very important because of the impact it has on government.
Key, Jr. also wrote an article on public opinion called “Leaders Mold and Influence Public Opinion.” This article is about how the country’s leaders shape public opinion. Key agrees in general with Lippmann in that public opinion can negatively affect government because the public is generally misinformed, ignorant, and that there beliefs are based on a pseudo-environment. Key believes that the leaders of this country should not strictly follow the will of the masses, and that the leaders should be the ones doing the leading. Contrary to Lippmann, Key writes that the public is misinformed because the government has given the people the wrong or misleading information.
Also that the public is in a pseudo-environment because the government has lead the public astray, or given them wrong information either on purpose or not. Based on this reading it is fair to say that Key believes that the leaders should not always follow public opinion, but public opinion is still very important because the leaders should be keeping the public well informed sot that the people can make better choices.
George Gallup writes in “Polling the Public” that public opinion is very important and can be judged by a variety of ways. Gallup believes that to gauge public opinion you should poll them asking them a variety of questions in order to get the public’s opinion on any given matter. Contrary to Lippmann and Key, Gallup does not believe that public opinion is bad, that they are misinformed or that they are ignorant. In fact Gallup writes that public opinion is very good.
Gallup believes this because that while the majority of the American people are not geniuses, they are smart people and their views should be listened to. It is fair to say that from this essay Gallup believes that in a democratic society the will of the people should be heard in order to maintain the democracy in the republic. Gallup shows that he believes public opinion is very important for the leaders to listen to, and can be understood through polling.
James Prothro and Charles Grigg co-wrote an article entitled “What do Americans Really Believe?.” This article goes along the same general lines of the article written by George Gallup in respect to how the leaders should listen to the public. Prothro and Grigg both believe, as does Gallup that public opinion is very important and that the leaders of this country should listen to the voice of the people.
One very important way that Prothro and Grigg’s article differs from Gallup’s article is that they believe it is hard to gauge public opinion. This leads to Prothro and Grigg’s main point: the masses can agree with the general, or abstract statement, but when you get into the small details about the statement people .