American Oligarchy

posted on Feb 22nd, 2020

In 2014, Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens reported the results of a multi-year study of American politics, trying to figure out who’s really pulling the levers of power in America.

They tested 4 hypothesis - that it was the broad majority of American voters, that it was issue focused special interest groups, that it was business interests, or that it was the wealthy (defined as the top 10% of the income spectrum).

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They looked at polling data from 1981 to 2002 to see which groups wanted what policies, and then looked at which policies actually passed to determine who was calling the shots.

They found that the wealthy were ruling the country.

They found no correlation between the desires of the vast majority of Americans and the policies that got passed. They found no correlation between the desires of special interest groups and what got passed. They found some correlation between the desires of business interests and what policies passed. (As it happens, the wealthy own the businesses.)

They found strong correlation between the desires of the wealthy and the policies that actually became law. The wealthy rule this country.

Most people in political power (in both parties) are well up in the top 10%. Most media commentators are in the top 10%. Most media outlets are owned by stockholders - and 80% of stock is owned by the top 20% of the income spectrum.

When you understand this reality, what is happening with Bernie Sanders’ campaign snaps into clear focus.

The 90% want their power back. They want a true democracy. And the wealthy oligarchy who currently control both political parties and most of the media really don’t want to give that power back.