“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



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