March 8, 2007 : Thursday
“PUBLIC OPINION AND INFLUENCES UPON IT”
All forms, systems, structures of government are tuned to public opinion –as one of the major keys to obtain the intention of respecting and abiding by it or with the intention of controlling it.
Government is an agency where in people can express, formulate and carry out their will. Therefore, government is obviously created for the people itself. Government by the people is usually taken to mean that electorate may make its opinion known at specific time, on specific issues or general policies. In a modern industrial state it is almost impossible to obtain the opinion of every individual. However, the opinion of a majority is made public at election time. In a democratic state, this public opinion or will of a majority of the electorate should stand on all the important and controversial issues.
Here we are concerned not only with the nature, measurement and importance of public opinion, but also with the forces which bring pressure to bear upon it under both democratic and totalitarian governments.
Public opinion based on the government’s ideas is only on a number of assumptions; 1.) Man is intelligent being capable, after the completion of elementary schooling, of understanding the problems of government; 2.) Man is rational, that therefore he will be guided by his judgment and not by his emotions or prejudices; 3.)Man is interested in public affairs and will devote time and energy to informing himself concerning the merits and defects of new proposal.
Facing the reality, assumptions might result from abuses. Based on the above government assumptions about public opinion, obviously their ideas were unreliable and unbelievable. Take a look in our country, where problems of education among our own people are so rampant, tantamount on that assurance of voting wisely becomes weak. Therefore, nature of public opinion, we shall consider to what extent these assumptions are true.
To substantiates the facts above, communicating among people is difficult; most individuals are confined to their limited spheres of activity from which they obtain public information, supplemented by a small measure of knowledge which they absorb from sources such as newspapers (with relatively local coverage) , magazines, books, radio, and TV. Each individual associates with his fellow workmen, members of his clubs, and residents of his own community. He is likely to think that the expression of opinion that he heard represent the consensus, but a quite different set of opinions maybe expressed, during the same period, in another section of the country or even among another occupational group or social class in his own region. Instead of the “public”, there are likely to be a dozen of “publics” within a democratic state- each convinced that it is expressing the representative opinion or will of the whole.
Apparently, the word “opinion” is used popularly to indicate a belief on almost any topic. In terms of public affairs opinion of public result from the voters own analysis of the facts, his personal judgment as to what they mean, or his decision as to the course with his government should pursue in relation with them. People’s expression under a democratic republic are borrowed from or influenced by others. They are often colored by prejudices, by likes or dislikes, or by considerations of personal interest. Furthermore, they may be mere parroting of ideas skillfully disseminated by propagandists.