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United States Politics

Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy 818

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University have concluded, after extensive analysis of 1,779 policy issues, that the U.S. is in fact an oligarchy and not a democracy. What this means is that, although 'Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance,' 'majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.' Their study (PDF), to be published in Perspectives on Politics, found that 'When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.'"
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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

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  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:21AM (#46764529)
    This is *before* those limits were lifted. As a citizen, I'm looking forward to seeing the power of the wealthy further cemented in this country, and so exquisitely draped in the pretense of democracy that my fellow citizens believe themselves empowered. It's gonna get better! (For the wealthy). How exciting for those of us who imagine ourselves upwardly mobile within the American caste system.
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:35AM (#46764599)

    You think Australia is free? Hahahaha! As If!
    We've got Bush 3.0 and some Tea Party rejects running the show down here, tearing everything positive and egalitarian down, selling off all of the public's assets, repealing racial discrimination laws, telling bald faced lies to the public and getting away with it because the media is complicit.

    We're just a cheap copy of you guys now, the closest thing to freedom is in the Scandinavian countries I'd say.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:39AM (#46764611) Homepage

    The original paper is an interesting approach to studying power balances.

    The summary is puerile flamebait.

    The actual conclusion of the paper is simply that the power in government is not concentrated in massive grassroots organizations or in direct electoral representation, but rather it is concentrated in the small-but-vocal interest groups and economically influential individuals. In other words, causes, no matter how big, don't really get power until they can pay enough to be taken seriously. That might mean lobbying, marketing, or awareness campaigns, but it still takes money to look like your cause has merit.

  • Re:Since when (Score:5, Informative)

    by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @03:32AM (#46764835)

    The US of A has NEVER been a Democracy, Our founding fathers knew that a Democracy was not the way to do proper government and framed what we are today called a Constitutional Republic. What we have now is a twisted mess of a government that is controlled by the money not the people that it was intended to be controlled by.

    Oh crying out loud, not this shit again? No wonder your country is so messed up. You are confusing structure with whether your representatives are elected democratically or not. China is a constitutional Republic as are a bunch of other republics around the world. You are confusing the structure of a government with how it is elected. There are various types of forms of government such as Republics, Parliamentary Systems and Parliamentary Republics. Some are partially democratic, completely democratic or undemocratic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]

    Finland is an example of a Parliamentary republic because it has an elected President as head of state and a unicameral parliament with a Prime Minister. Canada is an example of a Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy where the Queen is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the leader of the winning party of parliamentary elections.

  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @03:46AM (#46764875)
    Which is the very definition of oligarchy... your point? :)
  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:2, Informative)

    by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @04:05AM (#46764955)

    I hope you realize that, if you have any kind of graduate degree or work in high tech, you fall under the definition of "wealthy" according to this study, and you're advocating restricting your own political power and participation.

  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by guises ( 2423402 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @04:55AM (#46765131)
    Citizen's United was in 2010. That was the primary one declaring money as speech and establishing the Super PACs - it lifted any limits on contributions to political organizations that are technically separate from the politicians. This enabled a wealthy donor to contribute as much as they wished to the "Elect Politician X Organization" (Super PAC), though there were still limits on what the wealthy donor could contribute directly to the politician's campaign fund. There are some small differences between a Super PAC and the regular campaign fund, but the distinction is fairly trivial. In essence, Citizen's United was the decision that removed what remaining guards we had against the Oligarchy that the paper is talking about. Again, that was in 2010 and was doubtless factored into this analysis.

    I suspect that what you're talking about is the recent McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision which lifted another limit, this one pertaining to contributions to campaign funds, not Super PACs. This one was just a couple weeks ago. So, in other words, I think you and the GP are talking about two different decisions. He's talking about Citizen's United, and you are talking about McCutcheon.
  • Re:Revolt? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @05:07AM (#46765159) Homepage

    Keep belittling the power of people, forget about Rosa Parks and many others who through civil disobedience have change this country for better.

    Rosa Parks was not a "spontaneous uprising". While in American schools her story tends to be misportrayed as a case of a solitary dissident (an issue fascinatingly explored in educator Herbert Kohl's Should We Burn Babar? [amazon.com] ), in reality she was active in the local NAACP and her and her fellow civil rights aspirants had been waiting for the perfect moment to further their cause.

    Rosa Parks is an example of dramatic social change coming from committed, organized groups and not spontaneous outbursts of individual discontent.

  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @05:21AM (#46765209)

    Whoever upmodded you needs to do fact checking instead of just blindly doing so.

    You are wrong or lying. Study talks about "wealthy or elites" referring to the top 0.1% or so.

    Pretty much any graduate working in tech, unless he's one of the tiny portion of top CEOs is completely outside this scope. Even your average CEO or top manager will likely not be included in this definition - they are simply not wealthy or powerful enough to fit.

  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by higuita ( 129722 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @06:15AM (#46765365) Homepage

    In Switzerland, almost everything can be voted/approved/rejected by everyone. [wikipedia.org]

  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @06:40AM (#46765473) Homepage Journal
    Do you really think Citizens United magically transformed the U.S.? Really?
    The House of Representatives has been frozen in size since 1910 [thirty-thousand.org].
    Since 1913:
    - The IRS has eminent domain over your wallet [wikipedia.org].
    - Your state, as such, is essentially voiceless [wikipedia.org] in DC, now that Senators represent their parties.
    - The federal government just borrows it forward [wikipedia.org] to inflate the stock market and bind future generations in debt.
    Blame Progressivism? Darn right I do.
    Folks, it's time for a http://conventionofstates.com/ [conventionofstates.com]
  • by mwa ( 26272 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:50AM (#46765763)

    https://movetoamend.org/ [movetoamend.org]

  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @07:52AM (#46765775)

    Oh, is this what you mean?

    On the Strict father hypothesis:

    "What is required of the child is obedience, bacause the strict father is a moral authority who knows right from wrong. It is further assumed that the only way to teach kids obedience --- that is, right from wrong -- is through punishment, painful punkishment, when they do wrong. This includes hitting them, and some authors on conservative child rearing recommend sticks, belts, and wooden paddles on the bare bottom. Some authors suggest this start at birth, but Dobson is more liberal. "There is no excuse for spanking babies younger than fifteen or eighteen months of age" (Dobson, The New Dare to Discipline", 65)."

    Seems like a perfectly reasonable description, since he said only *some* Republicans believe that, and contrasting it with the Dobson quote.

  • Re:Are you kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by floobedy ( 3470583 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @03:38PM (#46772233)

    No, the civil war was about slavery. There were other issues also (like tariffs), but the primary issue was slavery.

    That point is extremely obvious if you read the primary sources in this case, which include declarations of independence by the states which were seceding, in which they explain very clearly what their main motives were.

    There was no other issue at the time so important that it would have caused a civil war. There was no other issue which would have caused the southern states to secede. Although there were other disagreements, such as disagreements about tariffs, those disagreements were nowhere near so intense that they would have provoked a secession or civil war.

    the slavery thing was pretty much just a PR tool Lincoln used to solidify public opinion in the north.

    You are repeating a historical fiction propagated at the end of the 19th century and which continues today in some conservative circles. It's a strain of thought which arose long after the civil war was over. It started with the publication of The Rise And Fall Of The Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis. It was an attempt to downplay the importance of slavery to southerners, and to portray slavery as a benign institution anyway which was done primarily to benefit of the enslaved. It's considered a crackpot theory among all serious historians, but it inspired a movement in the south which continues today.

    There was a long prelude to the American civil war. Tensions had been building for decades. In fact, the civil war had already started (for all intents and purposes), in bleeding Kansas [wikipedia.org] and other places, where fighting had already broken out, years before the formal beginning of the civil war. All this happened long before Lincoln was president. The issue was slavery, and both sides said so in no uncertain terms.

    It's good to know that mass "education" is successfully keeping people confused about this.

    Sadly, you're the confused one. You've been misled by a crackpot revisionist group.

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