My opinions are as valid as the next man’s!
In a democracy, citizens are entitled to have their voice heard when laws and other government decisions are being made. The Simpsons represents this well. Springfield’s citizens appear to have a high degree of civic responsibility. Town hall meetings are attended by all main characters and many speak their mind on issues. These characters often become the satirical representation of their class, role, or other identity in society. For example:
By intermingling multiple viewpoints into Springfield’s town meetings, The Simpsons is able to present perspectives of many groups who shape society.
Because of this high degree of involvement in local government on The Simpsons, Dr. Pete Woodcock, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Huddersfield, noted that democracy works in Springfield: Local control is exercised through frequently-held public meetings and there is usually a common belief that all citizens are moral equivalents.
Unfortunately, participation alone does not always lead to successful public policy and laws. Springfield’s voters and politicians alike tend to be ill-informed, and act in a self-interested manner.
Dr. John Considine, professor at the College of Business and Law at University College Cork, thought that The Simpsons shows how voters are unable to see the relationship between public expenditures and taxes. He pointed to the season seven episode “Much Apu About Nothing” as evidence.
In “Much Apu About Nothing,” a docile bear roamed into Springfield and destroyed the Simpsons’ mailbox. Incensed, Homer led an angry mob to town hall to complain about bears. Faced with an angry mob, Mayor Quimby agreed to unnecessarily extensive bear patrols. Ground troops and stealth bombers were used to keep Springfield bear-free and the high cost resulted in a tax increase.
Unable to comprehend the bear patrol’s burden on the public purse, Homer once again led an angry mob to town hall, this time to protest high taxes. Unwilling or unable to explain the concept of taxes to the townspeople, Quimby appeased the mob by blaming high taxes on the burden of illegal immigrants living in Springfield.
Andrew Wood and Anne Marie Todd, both Assistant Professors of Communication Studies at San Jose State University, found that The Simpsons “mocks the potential of the masses to demonstrate common sense.” They pointed to the season four episode “Marge vs. The Monorail” as evidence.
In “Marge vs. The Monorail,” Springfield held a special town meeting to determine how to spend a three million dollar windfall. Many divergent ideas were put forth but when Marge suggested investing the money in rebuilding Springfield’s Main Street, the townsfolk seemed to agree. Before the citizens could vote on Marge’s proposition, a fast-talking huckster suddenly appeared, and he sold Springfield on a mass transit monorail, claiming it will put Springfield on the map.
The Monorail proved to be a complete failure and the huckster ran off with Springfield’s money. Even if the monorail had been properly constructed, Springfield is a small community with a centralized population, which means a mass transit system was not necessary.