Can Public Opinion influence Government Policy?
Before you can comment on the correlation between Government Policy and Public Opinion, you must first comprehend Public Opinion. Public Opinion can be literally defined as “views prevalent among the general public,” (Source cited: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/public-opinion). In terms of Politics as well as government, it has a very diverse and meaningful definition that holds a strong importance to a country and plays a huge role in multiple forms of government. Public Opinion in this sense is defined by the people who make up the public, and the ideas they stand behind. This can be shown in a variety of ways, i.e. voting for certain politicians, joining a certain party, rallying for specific candidates, etc. Public Opinion isn’t limited to just voting and supporting government officials, the people of the public can represent their opinion in a more expressive manner such as; protesting, boycotting, debating their opinions with others and even rioting. Although many people stand strongly behind their beliefs and what ideas the deem right or wrong, Public opinion is constantly changing and differentiates between a plethora of census groups (race, religion, age, gender, social status, location). For example, A very strong democrat may have voted for Donald Trump instead of the democratic candidate; Hillary Clinton, simply because they would not enjoy to see a woman as President of the United States. Public opinion can have a major influence on political figures, specific issues, and other people that reside in the Public.
Public opinion can essentially make or break a country’s government, citizens that are a part of the Public have the opportunity to agree with, decline, or simply have no say in politics. Despite wether those governments choose to acknowledge or ignore the Public’s views, it can still have outstanding repercussions. E.g, take a country that is ruled by a dictatorship. If the dictator is cruel and unfair to the people, their views can influence the general public to overthrow the ruler. Noting the tremendous power of Public Opinion we also have to analyze the pros and cons that come along with the ideas of the people. Pros of public opinion is that it allows citizens to not only to declare what is right and just, it also grants them the ability to get their ideas across to the powers that control the country. This can mean signing a petition to impose new ideas to the government or formulating a support group behind a certain cause which can then formulate a plan to make sure their voices can be heard. Cons of public opinion would include the fact that it usually accounts for only the vast majority. Parties or individuals that have different views or ideas than the majority of the people are more likely to be ignored or deemed unimportant by high-ranking legislators. Another negative of public opinion is the act of bandwagoning. Bandwagoning can strongly influence individuals to blindly join a party or movement just because of the amount of followers or the popularity it has at that given time. These specific individuals can be brainwashed by the cause and can be mis-leaded into agreeing with policies or issues that they wouldn’t support themselves. Despite the positives and downfalls of public opinion, it is still a force to that needs to be recognized.
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