Public Opinion: How Strong Is the Public Voice in Society Today?

Lindsey Fleury

Abstract

Many scholars of the present day have various questions about prominent aspects of the "democratic citizen's" role in the democratic process. These questions include: (1) Should ill-informed citizens have the right to voice their opinion in the public sphere? (2) Does the "everyday citizen" really have the capability to place the "good of the many" over their "own individual desires"? (3) Do only those of the "civic mind" who are "well-off" financially have the ability for their voice to be heard over the voice of the many?, and (4) What actually constitutes the "democratic process"?

In the present day, all American citizens have the right to vote, if they should so choose. In order for the process of democracy to be fully utilized, though, it is pertinent that these democratic citizens make it a point to educate themselves before voicing their opinions in the public sphere. Without the basis of a proper education, "ill-informed" citizens, given enough resources, have the opportunity to voice their "ill-informed" views to the public.

Many historic politicians have suggested that those citizens who are "well-off" financially, often have the proper basis of of an education to be accurately involved in the process of democracy. These democratic individuals will also have the means for their voice to dominate the public sphere; thus overshadowing and influencing the "everyday citizen's" voice in society. This monopoly of public opinion tends to sway the process of democracy in favor of those citizens who are "powerful" enough to make their opinions heard throughout the fabric of society regardless of whether or not these "powerful" opinions fully coincide with the opinions of the general public.

This research utilizes a case study on casino location choices to explore the actual strength of the public voice in society, today.