Defending Politics

Commentary, August 1966.


As might have been expected, this posthumous work by the late V. O. Key, Jr. is the best voting study to appear, although its merits will be apparent only to readers who know the earlier ones. Others will surely wonder how so modest a book, presenting findings so familiar to the non-professional reader, can possibly deserve such praise. Not having read the previous publications on this subject, they will not understand how the argument “that voters are not fools” can be described by Key as “perverse and unorthodox”; for the same reason they will not know why it was necessary for a Harvard professor and former president of the American Political Science Association to write a book in defense of the proposition that voters vote for political reasons and that at the basis of their behavior lies a rational consideration of the issues and the candidates. If they are at all reflective, they might at this point begin to wonder about the state of the social sciences, when a description of, so to speak, a dog biting a man, is news.

American Enterprise Institute