In a recently published Princeton University study, “Testing Theories of American Politics” (pdf), researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page reveal through statistical analysis that the United States is no longer an actual democracy but has slipped into becoming a full fledged oligarchy.
The study starts with the question “Who governs? Who really rules?” in the US:
“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. Americans do 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]. 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 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.
The Guardian‘s Ana Marie Cox and the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim join the host of MSNBC’s “Now,” Alex Wagner, to discuss how the economic elite domination in the American political system.
The authors of the paper, Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, sat down with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show to talk about the demise of democracy in the US.