Public opinion has absolutely no effect on what laws/policies are adopted/not adopted. This is such an obvious fact. Petitioning the Federal Government for Keystone ect ect is, by fact, participating in the Kabuki. Are you doing your part?
“Average citizens have “little or no independent influence” on the policy-making process? This must be an overstatement of Gilens’s and Page’s findings, no?”
Everyone thinks they know that money is important in American politics. But how important? The Supreme Court’s Gilded Age reasoning in McCutcheon v. FEC has inspired a flurry of commentary regarding the potential corrosive influence of campaign contributions; but that commentary largely ignores the broader question of how economic power shapes American politics and policy. For decades, most political scientists have sidestepped that question, because it has not seemed amenable to rigorous (meaning quantitative) scientific investigation. Qualitative studies of the political role of economic elites have mostly been relegated to the margins of the field. But now, political scientists are belatedly turning more systematic attention to the political impact of wealth, and their findings should reshape how we think about American democracy.
A forthcoming article in Perspectives on Politics by (my former colleague) Martin Gilens and (my sometime collaborator) Benjamin Page marks a notable step in that process. Drawing on the same extensive evidence employed by Gilens in his landmark book “Affluence and Influence,” Gilens and Page analyze 1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude 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.”
Average citizens have “little or no independent influence” on the policy-making process? This must be an overstatement of Gilens’s and Page’s findings, no?
Alas, no. In their primary statistical analysis, the collective preferences of ordinary citizens had only a negligible estimated effect on policy outcomes, while the collective preferences of “economic elites” (roughly proxied by citizens at the 90th percentile of the income distribution) were 15 times as important. “Mass-based interest groups” mattered, too, but only about half as much as business interest groups — and the preferences of those public interest groups were only weakly correlated (.12) with the preferences of the public as measured in opinion surveys.
Gilens and Page frame their study as a test of four broad theories of American politics: “Majoritarian Electoral Democracy,” “Majoritarian Pluralism,” “Economic Elite Domination” and “Biased Pluralism.” “Majoritarian Electoral Democracy,” with its emphasis on public opinion, elections and representation, provides the theoretical backbone of most contemporary political science (including mine). The training of most graduate students (including mine) is primarily couched in that framework. But Gilens’s and Page’s work makes that look like a bad scientific bet, wishfully ignoring most of what actually drives American policy-making. -Continued at the Washington Post
Yes the WP is one of the best examples of bought and paid for corporate media,but the article has some facts involved, surprising for the Post. Since there is close to a complete black-out on this fact this is the best I can forward for your consideration.
Here is some real journalism on this issue, for comparison’s sake.
Wealth distribution reality vs perception
Jon Stewart gave a shout out to George Carlin a couple weeks ago. He owned this issue. The American dream ties Oligarchy to the devastating results and finishes it, approriately with the bow of the american people’s complacency- they keep electing these rich………….