Sunday, April 27, 2014

Study: U.S. is oligarchy, not republic

From WorldNetDaily:

A recent study by professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin I. Page found that the U.S. now resembles more of an oligarchy than a democratic republic.

“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 author of  a recent commentary about oligarchy in the 21st century, Matthew Continetti, of the Free Beacon, might even suggest that last phrase be repeated.

“Mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

“What we are in danger of losing because of the ‘extreme inequality in terms of political influence and the production of knowledge and information’ are the classical liberal values of negative freedom, of religious liberty, of equality before the law, of free markets,” he wrote.

More here.

I post stuff like this all the time.  I mean, for my money, it is THE biggest issue facing the United States today, the fact that what remains of our democratic republic is essentially the formal structures, but without any of the substance, that is, political theater and ritual void of meaning or impact.  In twenty first century America, the fabulously wealthy rule, not the people.  Indeed, I ran across this story in my left-wing reading only a couple of days ago, but decided not to say anything about it here because I'm talking about it all the time, anyway.  

Okay, so why am I posting this now when I had already decided against it?

WorldNetDaily, the site running the article, is an extreme far-right news and conspiracy site.  They put a conservative spin on it, of course, but it's more or less the same story I saw over at AlterNet or Talking Points Memo.  And I'm just tickled pink by that.  Because, really, the end of American democracy isn't a partisan issue.  It's not even an ideological issue.  It's an American issue, and it ought to be scaring the hell out of liberals and conservatives alike.  So to encounter an article like this coming down from the far right can only mean that the throw-money-at-the-rich concept, which has utterly captivated conservatives for three decades, is finally starting to collapse.  That is, the extremely wealthy have gone too far, so far that it's becoming obvious even to their supporters.

Or, at least, I hope that's what's happening.  And, to be sure, WND is a fringe site, out in right field even by the standards of, say, William Buckley's The National Review, which probably ISN'T running the article.  So we don't know what mainstream conservatives might be thinking about this.  Still though, this is definitely something, and it gives me great hope for some common ground in the near future shared by both the left and the right.

For the moment, things are looking up.