Any politician who tries to govern by public opinion poll is an idiot. Even assuming the polls are accurate, which can be a dangerous thing to do, people often don't know what they want, or they want contradictory things, or they want one thing one day and something else the next. Consider this Indiana University poll about public education:
A new Indiana University poll found most people oppose combining some small school districts' central offices with others as advocated by Gov. Mitch Daniels, even though they see some possible benefits from the move.
[. . .]
Under the proposal, school districts with less than 1,000 students would have to combine their central operations with another district unless they are already part of a countywide district.
But an annual survey released Wednesday by IU's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy found that 66 percent of respondents said they would oppose combining their school district with another one.
However, sizable percentages saw possible benefits from merging district operations. Fifty percent agreed that combining districts would expand learning opportunities for students; 49 percent said it would save tax dollars; and 45 percent agreed it would enhance student achievement.
But a recent poll by Ball State University found that, while people would be willing to pay more in state taxes for things like education and the environment, they didn't want to pay more in local taxes to solve problems because they had little confidence in local governments. They said they valued efficiency and, apparently, local governments don't have enough of that quality.
So do Hoosiers want bigger and more efficient or smaller and less efficient? Do they really think their public schools are doing a better job at what they're supposed to be doing than city and county officials are at what they're in charge of?
As inept and wrong as our officials can sometimes be, it's good to stop and give thanks occasionally that we have a representative democracy instead of a pure one. I'd be scared to death to have to live by the rule of most majorities.