Saturday, 17 May 2014 09:14
American democracy is no longer very democratic, according to a new university study (4/9/14; Perspectives on Politics, Fall/14). Instead, it's dominated by moneyed elites in a process where public opinion has little to no impact on policy. Released a month ago by Princeton's Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin I. Page, the study concludes:
Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
The political scientists looked at more than 1,700 policies over 20 years to find out how public opinion translates into policy, and concluded that where economic elite views diverged from those of the public, the public had "zero estimated impact upon policy change, while economic elites are still estimated to have a very large, positive, independent impact."
Bracing news? The study went viral in social media, but has hardly shown up in the US corporate press. A month after its release there have been no network news mentions, nor has it appeared in the most influential newspapers–the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. (The New York Times, 4/21/14 and the Washington Post, 4/8/14 published blog posts on the study.)