Elites, Interest Groups, Avg. Citizens

Elites, Interest Groups, Avg. Citizens

It’s official: Princeton professor proves that our political system is no longer a democracy. It’s an elitist oligarchy.

Special interest groups and economic elites rule; “it makes very little difference what the general public thinks”.

 oligarchy_thumb.jpg

It’s official: Princeton professor proves that our political system is no longer a democracy. It’s an elitist oligarchy.

Special interest groups and economic elites rule; “it makes very little difference what the general public thinks”.

 oligarchy.jpg

Many of us have a feeling that elections don't matter and that the preferences we express in our voting mean very little to the politicians who rule us. They serve themselves and those who pay for their election campaigns, lobby them and bribe them. But the feeling is a suspicion that’s hard to prove.

That was true until now. In a recent academic paper, Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, supported by data collected and analyzed by Benjamin I Page, Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, uses “big data” techniques to turn our suspicions into proven fact.

Gilens and Page analyzed 1,779 cases in which there was a clear policy decision made by government and survey data regarding voters’ and interest groups’ positions for or against the policy. They tested the outcomes (i.e. what policy was passed as legislation and implemented by the government) against 4 hypotheses:

1) Elected politicians reflect the collective will of the citizens, expressed via democratic elections. In this theory, candidates in a two-party system tend to converge at the mid- point of citizens preferences – i.e. “majority rule”.

2) Politicians’ decisions are predominantly influenced by members of the highest economic income and wealth bracket, especially those who make most of their money from owning businesses and stocks. This is the 1%, or perhaps the 0.1%.

3) Politicians’ decisions are predominantly determined by massed citizen groups who come together to express their support for a particular agenda. Think “Tea Party” or “Pro-Choice” groups.

4) Politicians’ decisions are predominantly determined by organized special interest groups, representing business firms, professional groups (like unions) and well-funded lobbying groups (like big environmentalist organizations). They raise money, spend heavily on election campaigns for their favored politicians, fraternize with public officials, move through revolving doors between public and private employment, and provide biased information to officials.

The findings from the analysis of the 1,779 cases are very clear cut.

 The average citizens’ preferences have a “miniscule, near-zero, statistically non- significant impact upon public policy”. Ordinary citizens “have little or no independent influence on policy at all”.

 Economic elites and organized special interest groups have highly significant impact on policy.

 The economic elites’ and special interest groups’ preferences have an almost-zero alignment with average citizen preferences. They don't want what we want.

 It makes very little difference what the general public thinks. Even when ordinary citizens organize themselves into groups to support policies, they get nowhere. The elites both “shape the agenda of issues that policy makers consider” and they “shape policy outcomes on contested issues”. Consequently, the authors question “America’s claims to being a democratic society”.

So there you have it. It’s official. Our democratically elected officials have become so unresponsive that there is no longer any response to what the average citizen wants. Heck, they don’t even listen, much less care. Why should they? Economic elites and organized special interests pay for their elections. Voters don't matter.

The Neighborhood Legislature is the only reform that is capable of changing this situation. The 12,000 representatives in tiny neighborhood districts MUST listen to their neighbors, the average citizens. The elites and special interests can’t buy 12,000 elections. The two dominant parties can’t win all 12,000 seats. The average voter will now have the power to truly decide who wins election and what policies those elected officials vote for. We can turn back a century-and-a-half of political decay in California, and demonstrate to the rest of the nation how to do it. Join us at http://www.neighborhoodlegislature.com

<div style="background: #FFFFFF; margin: 0 10px 10px 0; padding: 0 10px 0 0; text-align: left; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 1em;"><div style="font-size: 11px; padding: 0px 0px 10px 0px; font-weight:bold; color: #045989;">TestingTheories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens</div><div style="font-size: 11px;"><b>Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page (2014). </b><br/><ahref="http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=PPS">Perspectiveson Politics</a>, <ahref="http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=PPS&volumeId=12&bVolume=y#loc12>href="http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=PPS&volumeId=12&issueId=03&seriesId=0">Issue03</a>, September 2014, pp 564-581<br/>

Above is the blog link code for Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens Insert Author Name here Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page September 2014 Perspectives on Politics, ,Volume12, Issue03, September 2014, pp 564-581 http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S1537592714001595

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