“Princeton Researchers Conclude US Political System
Has Been Almost Completely Usurped”
Of the elite, by the elite, for the elite.
by Steve Watson
“A recent scientific study by Princeton and Northwestern universities, which has gone somewhat under reported in the mainstream media, concludes that the US is now a fully fledged oligarchy. The paper, entitled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens”, notes that America is no longer even a Democracy, which begs the question, how far removed is the country from being the Republic envisioned and painstakingly established by Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers.
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” the study notes. In other words, powerful elites have taken over the country and effectively run the government, it is official. Of the people, by the people, for the people is now a thing of the distant past.
The research undertaken by the universities included the study of close to two thousand government policies enacted over a 21 year period between 1981 and 2002. Using a framework of political models – Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – researchers found that the majority of those US policies were specifically designed to benefit wealthy elites.
Policy outcomes “tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations,” the research states, meaning the US falls into the category of Biased Pluralism. Researchers concluded that the reason for the trend is that policies are made by special interest groups rather than by politicians acting on behalf of average Americans. “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” the study also notes. “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. 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.” the study also notes.
The study points toward the conclusion that the US is nothing more than an illusion of democracy. “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association” the study notes, while warning “we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”
The authors of the study, Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concur that the will or opinion of the majority in the US has no effect on the way government is run. “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
“Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does,” Gilens and Page write. “Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support. But we tend to doubt it” they add.”