A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has found that the United States’ government more closely resembles an Oligarchy or a Corporatocracy than a Republic or Democracy. Researchers examined nearly 2,000 policy changes in the United States between 1981 and 2002 and compared the changes to the preferences of average Americans, wealthy citizens, and interest and lobbying groups.
The researchers sought to find the answers to who governs in America, who really rules, and to what extent are U.S. citizens sovereign or powerless. To do this they analyzed four theoretical traditions in American politics. These include Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism. The researchers write, “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.”
They found evidence to support the theories of Economic Elite Domination, and Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. The key difference in the theories is the power and influence that wealthy individuals yield versus the average, or median voter.
Despite past researchers suggesting that policy changes are the result of “collective preferences” or that liberalism and conservatism in policies is representative of the views of citizens, the Princeton study suggests “that reality is best captured by mixed theories in which both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.”
The researchers findings also indicate that even when a majority of citizens disagree with the economic elite, and call for policy change, they rarely get it. The researchers blame “the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system.”
The study concludes with the following statement:
“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.”
Although the researchers (and most of the media) refer to the idealized American government as a democracy it is important to remember that the original text of the Constitution called for a republican form of government, as seen in Article 4, section 4:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government,”
Interestingly enough the researchers also mention critics who believe the elite themselves created the Constitution to take away freedoms from the average citizen. “Analyses of U.S. politics centered on economic elites go back at least to Charles Beard, who maintained that a chief aim of the framers of the U.S. Constitution was to protect private property, favoring the economic interests of wealthy merchants and plantation owners rather than the interests of the then-majority small farmers, laborers, and craft workers.”
Whether you believe in a Democracy, a Constitutional Republic, or self-government, it is clear that unless Americans begin to educate themselves to the problems, and move to action, we will see all our freedoms stripped away and the Corporate-State will become further entrenched.