By Chris Rivera
A 2014 study, by Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that America is no longer a democracy, but rather it is an oligarchy. Their research included a study between the years 1981 through 2002 and compared 1,800 policies that were put together by politicians and through their analysis they arrived at the conclusion that wealthy individuals have a bigger impact over the policies that are implemented over the views of the middle-class and lower class.
Gilens and Page write in their report, “Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.”
They also write that:
What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.
When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.
Many may be saying, “So what? We already knew this,” and begin to discuss how one percent of Americans control ninety percent of the wealth; or how the one percent of Americans will have accumulated half of the world’s wealth. Or even how the Middle-Class keeps dwindling down to the point where it is non-existent. This is not news at all, but rather evidence for information that we already knew.
America is going to remain an oligarchy as long as Citizens United remains in place. The ruling, by the Supreme Court, which recognized that “First Amendment protection extends to corporations,” which allowed for money to be the same as speech, thus the more money one has the more speech they are afforded.
We are in a time where American politicians are like Kickstarter users. For those of you who are unaware what Kickstarter.com is it is a site that allows for people who have an idea for a project and if people are interested in that project they can donate money to make it happen.
As long as you have a billionaire to finance your campaign you can thrive through. After Ted Cruz announced to the public he was running for president in 2016, it was reported that Wall Street hedge fund magnate, Robert Mercer, raised $31 million in just a few weeks into Ted Cruz’s campaign.
“It just takes a random billionaire to change a race and maybe change the country,” Trevor Potter, a Republican finance lawyer, told The New York Times. “That’s what’s so radically different now.”
But it isn’t just Republicans who are seeking wealthy investors it is Democrats as well. According to Politico, “The 100 biggest donors of 2014 gave nearly $174 million to Democrats, compared to more than $140 million to Republicans.” Politico also reports how retired San Francisco hedge fund billionaire, Tom Steyer, spent $74 million helping Democratic candidates.
If this is not enough to show how money is abundant in politics, let us examine Romney and Obama’s 2012 presidential bid; Politico reports that Obama spent $1.123 billion, where Romney spent $1.019 billion, which comes to show you as long as you have the finances you can run for public office.
In a recent poll it shows how 84 percent of Americans think that money has too much of an influence over political campaigns. The poll shows how 80 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats, and 84 percent of Independents feel that there is too much money in politics.