Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page on the US political system


The two authors of the study that looked at a large amount of data that enabled them to test various hypotheses about who runs America and came to the conclusion that the middle class and lower have no influence on policy had an extended interviewed on The Daily Show two days ago. They are careful to say that they themselves did not use the word oligarchy, which to them implies control by a very tiny group, say they top 0.1%. They think control here is by about the top 10%.

The first part is below and the next two parts can be seen here and here. The second and third parts are more substantive and it struck me how mainstream people are also now talking about the potential for major social upheaval as a consequence of this distortion.

John Steinbeck once said that “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” But when the conditions are right, there is the possibility of some kind of Gestalt switch occurring where people suddenly realize the truth of their condition. This is what the oligarchy lives in fear of and what they are trying to prevent at all costs.

(These clips aired on April 30, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)

Comments

  1. says

    They think control here is by about the top 10%.

    That’s about what it was during the early post-revolution period, as well. The US has never been a democracy – except for a “representative democracy”, which means a plutocracy that represents itself as a democracy.

  2. MNb says

    The middle and lower classes understand this given the turnout at presidential elections: less than 60%. Turnout at Dutch national elections (these are the most important ones) was about 75% in 2012.

  3. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    They are careful to say that they themselves did not use the word oligarchy, which to them implies control by a very tiny group, say they top 0.1%. They think control here is by about the top 10%.

    But how much control do the top 0.1% have on the attitudes and opinions of the top 10%? “Leverage” can be psychological as well as financial

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