DEMOCRACY = NOT IN AMERICA = PRINCETON + NORTHWESTERN RESEARCH FINDINGS
GOVERNMENT BY WEALTHY AND THEIR LOBBYISTS = Economic Elitists Domination
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.” — FDR
Who really rules? To what extent is the broad body of U.S. citizens sovereign, semi-sovereign, or largely powerless? Are we a Democracy or a Plutocracy?
FACT: US GOV = Far more responsive to needs of the wealthy than those of the 99%.
FACT: US Senate = Only responsive to Policy Preferences of the Wealthy (UCONN Study) = ZERO% Concern for Preferences of Middle Class and Poor
Central FINDING = Economic elitists and organized business groups set US POLICIES
Findings = Democracy in America is in Trouble = Not responsive to Citizens = Majority does NOT RULE = Does NOT determine policy outcomes = Always lose to RICH and status quo (DO NOTHING)
NEAR 0% Success Rate = Average citizens (99%) impact on Actions by Congress because NOBODY represents them every moment of every day = Findings show “ordinary citizens…have little or no independent influence on policy at all.” + “it makes very little difference what the general public thinks.” = Congress = 95+% Hated by Americans = Poll Results are mostly ignored by Congress = Even Large Majorities are Ignored.
Masssive Influence = WEALTHY AND THEIR LOBBYISTS impact on Action Approved by Congress = The affluent have “a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy – more so than any other set of actors” + “a large, positive, highly significant impact on public policy.”
60+% = Success Rate of Chamber of Commerce on Bills = Issues for their Corporate Clients (2000)
18% Success Rate = When WEALTHY AND THEIR LOBBYISTS have Opposition to a particular policy
45% Success Rate = When WEALTHY AND THEIR LOBBYISTS support a Policy
EXAMPLE: Sequestration = Gutted Head Start + Meals on Wheels but Congress Immediately Corrected business-class travelers waiting in long airport lines during FAA furloughs.
RICH ARGUE = IGNORE THE COMMON CITIZENS = Inattentive to politics + Ignorant about public policy + Poorly informed preferences + elitists and lobbyists have policy expertise and seek the common good
FACT: Ordinary citizens know their own values and interests and policy preferences are worthy of respect. + No Clear informational advantages of elitists except on taxes and regulatory policies that directly affect them.
FACT: RICH = Know nothing about the human impact of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, or unemployment insurance = NOT crucial to their own well-being
FACT: RICH = Are have rather selfish goals and want policies to support them.
FACT: Informational expertise does not transcend one’s own interests or work for the common good.
FACT: Public is a more certain guardian of its own interests than the Wealthy and Lobbyists.
FACT: The superior wisdom of economic elitists can not simply be assumed.
FINDING: Majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.
FINDING: American policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans = America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
Source: 2014 Article by Martin Gilens of Princeton & Benjamin Page of Northwestern
1,779 policy issues (1981 and 2002) matched up against surveys of public opinion versus income and Lobbyist support