America: The Majority Does Not Rule

By Jack A. Smith, the Hudson Valley Activist Activist Newsletter plus various news sources

The serious political left in America has argued for over a century that a relatively small ruling class representing great wealth, major commerce and Wall Street dominated the economic and political system of the U.S., gravely compromising true democracy and promoting gross inequality.

But those who control the government, the educational system and the all-pervading commercial mass media have diluted such apostasy through continual phantasmagorical depictions of the glories of an American society of milk and honey, of equality and matchless democracy, of opportunity and upward mobility for all.

Lately, due to the Great Recession, to reports of extreme and growing inequality, the decline of the working class and middle class, long term unemployment, revelations about the surveillance state, and a political system veering between the center right and the far right, the reality that the U.S. is much more a plutocracy than a democracy appears to be catching on.

Following is more evidence that the real truth is beginning to emerge, based on reports from RT and several news sources:

The first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the U.S. is a democracy (choosing government representatives through fair elections) rather than a plutocracy  (government controlled by the wealthy class, even despite formal trapping of democracy) found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy.

The study, due out in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, sets out to answer elusive questions about who really rules in the United States. The researchers measured key variables for 1,779 policy issues within a single statistical model in an unprecedented attempt “to test these contrasting theoretical predictions” – i.e., whether the U.S. sets policy democratically or the process is dominated by economic elites, or some combination of both.

"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” the researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University wrote.

While “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association,” the authors say the data implicate “the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

The authors of “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” say that even as their model tilts heavily toward indications that the U.S. is, in fact, run by the most wealthy and powerful, it actually doesn’t go far enough in describing the stranglehold connected elites have on the policymaking process.

“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,” the researcher said.

“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.”….

— The full report is at
http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf

 

 

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