For over two years we have been writing about the undue influence of money in American politics and government. We dared to say on several occasions that we now live in an oligarchic society, not a democracy. Some of our readers thought that was somewhat extreme, however, now, a scientific study seems to bear out what we have been saying all along.
The reality of the study is the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do SEEM to enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories of America. In America, money talks… and democracy dies under its crushing weight. A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities organized interest groups are controlled for and by the elite, and the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:
“Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”
Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.
What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the U.S. is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media). The U.S., in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious “electoral” “democratic” countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That’s it, in a nutshell.
In the years we have been blogging, our hope that the electorate would finally wake up and understand the danger that their apathy toward the political process would eventually cause their enslavement. We all understand the words “erosion of the middle class” but we don’t seem to link that statement to concepts such as extreme poverty, lack of opportunity for our children, police state, political suppression, lose of freedom, and several more realities that we seem to believe we still have and don’t have at all.
It is time we do what we need to do. We need to understand that our democracy and freedom must be fought for and defended at all times. That is not only our right to vote, but our RESPONSIBILITY and OBLIGATION to vote and when voting, cast an informed ballot. Today, the American people are the least informed voters of any of the developed nations and most of the under developed nations. In each of those nations we clearly understand the plight of the people and the poverty and hardships they are enduring on a daily basis. We are now numbered among those nations.
The recent changes in political campaign financing orchestrated through what should be the least corrupt arm of government, the Supreme Court, and the effectiveness of the number of state efforts to suppress voter’s rights should be a ringing bell to wake us up! We, the people, still have the power to correct these atrocities and assaults on our democracy and constitution, but to do so we must take the time and effort to understand the issues and most importantly cast an informed vote. That means voter turnout needs to be in the 80-90% range even in off term elections like those coming up in 2014. We need to repeal these ridiculous campaign financing laws and voter suppression actions, and finally those among us who can run for office as true patriots should step up and run. The cast of characters lining up in state and congressional seats so far are the most pathetic in our history.
Stop for a moment, forget the political rhetoric, and simply look at your children. If you fail to participate, what is their fate?