shared preferences are important bases of political parties.
Collective action is a public good not a private good. – this means that one persons use
of a public good ex lighthouse, is often impossible to avoid from consuming it. A
lighthouse: jointness of supply.. if one persons uses the light, it doesn’t take away from
someone else using the same light.
However, national defence is nonexcludable: if it protects one family, it is impossible for
it to protect their neighbours as well.
Collective action: governments all but invariably act collectively, such as voting to select
reps or to pass legislation.
Another problem with collective action is that both parties or “players” can say that they
agree on something, but actually go against it, making one player look like the “sucker” – to
create an effective agreement is required to make a binding commitment.
Social choice problems within the government
Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States
A Tocqueville - 1835
•Tocqueville is worried about majority rule and its potential abuse in the American democratic
•The equality among all citizens discourages dissent and freedom of thought. Opinions other
than that of the majority are scrutinized.
•Society is constructed by the will of the majority.
•To gain political power, it must be gained from the ruling majority. Therefore, conformity to
the liking of the majority is necessary - therefore change is nearly impossible.
•Argument: American officials are mainly elected directly and for brief terms. However, for the
power of the majority to be considered legitimate, it requires the sanction of time, which the
American political system does not provide.
•Argument: When there are several large factions, the will of the majority may not be in
actuality the will of the people as a whole. Yet the majority still holds power above all. The
influences of the majority are evident in all different levels of government, which leads
Tocqueville to compare the power of the majority to that of a monarchy in Europe.
•Due to this, Tocqueville asks when “a party is wronged in the US, to whom can he apply for
redress?” He is criticizing the lack of support given to the minority in being able to gain
considerable ground over the majority.
•The public force consists of the majority under arms,” explains the vast influence of the
•Weakness: Tocqueville criticizes the level of power held by the executive branch as being
“subjected to the caprices of the legislature” and took away any potential influence that the
flexibility of the executive branch is supposed to allow. The article was written in 1835, and