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American government is based on a democratic governing style, thus expressing public opinion in the U.S. is very important to its citizens. The government cares about what people think how the government should govern them. Public opinion would be a set of people’s opinions about many topics. A concept of public opinion is difficult to describe, because these opinions can be contradictory. Sometimes it is complex because a lot of people have different views on a lot of issues. In order for a complete understanding of what public opinion really is, it is necessary to take a look at how public opinion is shaped and formed.
A process of forming political opinion by our parents, environment, media and other forces is called political socialization. We all have some sets of general values and they might be to fight for equality, liberty, education or health care. In the early childhood of a child, a major shaping force are parents. If a child hears that parents talk about how they prefer democrats over republicans and they vote for democrats it will definitely impact on child’s values later on in life. Education is also one significant factor in forming political opinion. Through life, teachers and professors had an impact on their students. By listening to many courses, researching and studying we take in new values. Gender, race, religion and life events are another set of sources of political socialization.
Dominant expression of public opinion can be seen on elections. In the end, it all comes to the choice of a political party at the elections. Political party preferences are a strong indicator of someone’s public opinion. For example, someone who is a Hispanic Catholic is very likely to be against abortion. Since a public opinion matters in a democracy, political representatives should serve and listen to their people. The question of how informed people are that choose a government is being raised.
Through media we receive certain information. Media is there to inform us about current political events. Without receiving news from the media we would not have a clue about what is happening in the political world. That would make us useful as voters that have a right to choose who will govern the whole country. Almost half a century ago, the main source of receiving information was television and newspapers. As technology has rapidly changed, so did the sources. Nowadays it is normal to follow presidents on Twitter and Facebook, as well as organize protest and petition events on these platforms. President Trump is well known for his activity on Twitter. He has created numerous headlines and certainly affected public opinion with his activity. Due to endless sources of information that we have today, people became more polarized because they determine which sources will be correspondent to their values. Users of social media platforms are more active, however inaccurate news and rumors are often on these platforms and they might influence on voters that don’t have particularly strong political opinions.
Government is interested in what people want, that is why candidates and political parties spend a lot of money on polling to find out how they perform. How polls are executed is very important. It can happen that results from a poll were not as expected and with the usage of framing effect that same poll can influence on audience in a negative way. Polls are very popular during and after the elections. They are a great insight for politicians to examine how do they stand.
In conclusion, by listening to the public opinion, the government does care and it really is „government by the people“. Government would maybe listen even more to what people have to say if there was more accuracy. Since public opinion is a set of peoples opinion on many topics, it is complex to distinguish are the values of this person driven by false media headlines on social media or not.
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