28. April 2015

Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy

A new study from Princeton spells bad news for 
American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.
Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens 
and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few 
decades America's political system has slowly transformed 
from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites 
wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives 
from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected 
individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the 
country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority 
of voters.

"The central point that emerges from our research is that 
economic elites and organized groups representing business 
interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. 
government policy," they write, "while mass-based interest 
groups and average citizens have little or no independent

As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political 
preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to 
preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as 
major lobbying or business groups. They find that the 
government—whether Republican or Democratic—more 
often follows the preferences of the latter group rather 
than the first.

The researches note that this is not a new development 
caused by, say, recent Supreme Court decisions allowing 
more money in politics, such as Citizens United or this 
month's ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC. As the data stretching 
back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, 
and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone 

"Ordinary citizens," they write, "might often be observed 
to 'win' (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) 
even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on 
policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) 
actually prevail." 


Whom does Obama serve? SANANDA:

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