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Voting Through the Looking Glass
Robert E. Goodin
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 77, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 420-434
Published by: American Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1958926
Page Count: 15
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Political candidates embody possibilities as well as preferences. To some extent, their possibilities vary systematically and inversely with their preferences. Political systems often have built-in @`stops@' preventing left-wing candidates from doing things too far to the left of their declared positions and vice versa. The preferences of right-wing candidates make them unlikely to want to pursue policies on the far left, but at least the opportunity to do so is available to them in a way that may be denied to left-wingers themselves. Taking differential possibilities into account, it might prove instrumentally rational to vote perversely for the right-wing candidate if you really ally want left-wing results and vice versa. This article sketches conditions under which that proposition will hold true, shows those conditions are empirically plausible, and suggests that politicians themselves are alive to these possibilities. This awareness should make us much more cautious in reading any policy-specific mandates into electoral outcomes. It may even make us doubt the model of instrumental rationality itself.
The American Political Science Review © 1983 American Political Science Association