Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Simpsons do Local Democracy

I remember skim-reading a paper a while back (I think it was in the journal Politics) about the potential of The Simpsons for engaging students with democracy. Springfield holds regular New England-style town meetings, which often demonstrate shortcomings of deliberation and the danger of demagogues - perhaps most memorably (for me) the one where a singing salesman convinces the townspeople to spend a windfall on a monorail.

In tonight's episode (which featured a guest appearance from U2), Homer got into an argument with the refuse collectors which eventually led to him running for sanitation commissioner, being elected on the basis of 'crazy promises', spending his year's budget in a month and then making up the financial hole by filling another - letting other cities bury their rubbish in a disused mine under Springfield until rubbish was literally popping up out of the ground. A fine example of local demcoracy in action...

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