Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 00:57 a.m. DST, 24 April 2014
New empirical research disproves the idea that the U.S. is a democracy. A common response to these claims is "of course not, America is a Republic." Well, also incorrect, it turns out. According to a joint study by leading experts in the political sphere, the terms "democracy" or "republic" are erroneous adjectives.
Testing Theories of American Politics is a recent study to be published in Perspectives on Politics academic journal this Fall. The report is authored by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, who teach at Princeton and Northwestern Universities respectively. The professors compiled 20 years of political data to cross-reference political decisions with the will of the American majority.
Their results are telling. The model takes 1,779 unique policies into account, and finds that with uncanny predictability, the intentions of wealthy Americans are fulfilled through the actions of politicians. Thus, the study concludes that the government is run by a select few. However, unlike a military state, those in power in America rule through the dollar, and not by the sword.
The findings of Gilens and Page are rooted in prevailing philosophies of American democracy. The four possible outcomes of the statistics are also the four principle theories of public policy control: power either lies with the majority, the wealthy, collected citizens or collected wealth. Marjoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism are the theories that correspond to each of these demographics, when each group is at the reins of political power.
The scholars conclude that "The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Marjoritarian Electoral Democracy or Marjoritarian Pluralism." In layman's terms, the wealthy and the interest groups of the wealthy have primary sway over government dealings.
Later in the report the authors introduce tables to illustrate their findings. This data indicates that the voice of the majority is largely silenced by corporate America. Even in the face of the people's dissent big-money interests will win-out in policy making.
All this is disturbing, especially in a nation that claims to be the home of a special breed of democracy and independence. Some even claim the New World to be the origins of democratic government. But anyone with an internet connected or a reputable textbook can unravel this fabrication.
A host of nations claim to be the birthplace of democratic government, but some have more founded reasoning than others. Iceland created the Althing parliament in 930 CE, creating a commonwealth society where representatives met to make laws and nominate judiciaries. By some standards, they are the inventors of the democratic state.
The Isle of Man holds the record for the oldest democratic body still in operation. The Tynwald legislature began in 979 CE and elects its members into positions in the executive branch. And New Zealand set a global precedent by establishing universal suffrage in 1893.
The United States cannot be decorated with any of these accolades. And now, their status as a democracy is questionable at best. If America could check the power of the dollar on supposed democratic dealings by limiting the impact of private monies in public elections, the voice of the majority would be audible for the first time.
- Wealthy elite influence government policy more than average voters, study finds (dailynorthwestern.com)
- Gilens and Page: Average citizens have no political influence (equalitybylot.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Policies Favor The Wealthy, Interest Groups, Study Shows (huffingtonpost.com)
- Read the Gilens-Page Study. Right Now. (pacificbullmoose.com)
- Scientific Study: USA Is Not A Democracy But An Oligarchy (rinf.com)