Mass-media polling is justifiably skewered in this spirited work by Matthew Robinson, managing editor of the conservative weekly Human Events and an adjunct fellow of the Claremont Institute. He begins with the abuses of polling and ends with a stout defense of the American Constitution and the statesmanship and political journalism that helped launch and legitimate it.
Mobocracy provides a multitude of recent examples of liberal journalists' and Democratic politicians' manipulation of public opinion through polling (including a shrewd, no-holds-barred account of the Clinton impeachment coverage). The primary objective of their manipulation, Robinson argues, is to validate a big-government political agenda and to discredit the Republicans. Most pollsters presume (or pretend there exists) a rational, informed public, but their "dirty little secret" is that vast numbers of Americans know little or nothing about the issues on which they are polled. Hence, polls not only conceal widespread public ignorance but actually feed it with flattery. Such citizens are easy prey for demagoguery.
Robinson ultimately demonstrates that America's Founders were right in their judgment that the many cannot govern directly and that the only reasonable alternative is representative government in which they have the choice of rulers. Mobocracy is thus dialectical, beginning with crucial examination of the current frenzy of journalistic democracy and ultimately taking the reader back to the more sober view of the Founders. It is an education in true self-government.
—Richard H. Reeb, Jr.
* * *
This article appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of the Claremont Review of Books