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cursory reflection on the empirical evi- dence about voting behaviour casts immediate doubt on the simple identifica- tion of consent with liberal-democratic voting. It is argued by Plamenatz, for example, that even electoral abstainers consent, and Gewirth states that the 8 P.H. Partridge, Consent and Consensus (London, 1971), 23 9 The continuing ideological importance of the legacy of liberal social contract theory is, rather curiously, overlooked by Marxist and neo-Marxist writers. C.B. Macpherson, in The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (Oxford, 1962

-elitist-equilibrium model. Its key architects were the Austrian-American political econo- mist Joseph Schumpeter and American political scientists and voting behaviour specialists, particularly Robert Dahl, Bernard Berelson, Paul Lazarsfeld, and William McPhee. 47 This model and the system it purported to explain was pluralist , because it viewed society as essentially plural, composed of individu- als pulled in many different directions by a multiplicity of interests. As a result, individuals came together in an immense variety of interest groups, which pursued their specific

, the authors of the influential American Voter , in many ways a comprehensive and definitive statement of the assumptions about voting behaviour that informed the equilibrium model. Macpherson believed, correctly I think, that the empiricist bent of such studies masked fundamental theoretical and normative issues around democratic theory and practices that needed an airing. A powerful and I believe unfortunately under-appreciated exchange that raises many of the issues that Macpherson’s critique of models of democracy sought to highlight was published in

reform of American political institutions. Most analysts of the political process agree that American political institutions are not designed to facilitate the transmission of popular enthusiasms through the organs of party government or the presidency. Indeed, the popular sovereignty interpretation of American constitutionalism is flat- ly contradicted by Madisonian principles such as separation of powers, federalism, and checks and balances, and by modern studies of voting behavior.7 Reform of American political institutions would bring about more of the allegedly