Matt Stoller believes that the recent pre-publication release of a study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page doesn't support the idea that the United States is an oligarchy yet. He says:
A lot of people are misreading this Princeton study on the political influence of the wealthy and business groups versus ordinary citizens. The study does not say that the US is an oligarchy, wherein the wealthy control politics with an iron fist. If it were, then things like Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, veterans programs, housing finance programs, etc wouldn’t exist.
What the study actually says is that American voters are disorganized and their individualized preferences don’t matter unless voters group themselves into mass membership organizations. Then, if people belong to mass membership organizations, their preferences do matter, but less so than business groups and the wealthy.
Well, it's true that Gilens and Page never say that United States is an oligarchy, and perhaps it's also true that they don't believe it. But they do say this: Read below the fold...
Requirements for an e-participation platform in human political CASs
We won't be able to stop the movement toward oligarchy unless we can create a new institutional framework that allows us to change those aspects of our present situation supporting oligarchy and undermining open society. We need a framework that will operate within the context of existing rules and laws to create changes supporting increased self-organization and distributed knowledge processing shifting our democratic PCASs back towards an open state. Read below the fold...
It's hardly news that there’s a very wide chasm between voters, lawmakers and political parties. The rage in America reflected in the Republican primary contests is palpable. And there's also rage among progressives as well, though it's not finding an outlet in the Democratic Party. The same is true in Europe, where we see unrest in many nations. People in developing nations are demanding democracy, and making some progress too. But, everywhere one looks in developed countries, democracy is retreating, and Michels's (p. 400) “Iron Law of Oligarchy” is triumphant.
In the U.S. most Americans believe lawmakers don't care what they think, Congress's approval rating is at an all-time low, and most Americans believe the major parties won't represent them. Neither tries to match its policies to a majority of voters’ preferences, and both continuously support laws that seem designed to benefit large corporate interests and the 1%, but not working Americans. There are now more unaffiliated voters than party-affiliated ones, and major party candidates often win elections with only 25% of potential voters.
Most voters want most federal incumbents defeated, but legal constraints on minor parties and candidates typically ensure their defeat, whether they are “insurgents” from within the party, or candidates from third parties. This skewing of electoral outcomes leads voters to think that they have to vote for major party candidates, or “waste” their vote. Angry voters alternate election cycles between major party candidates to “punish” incumbents. But the new “winners” ignore what voters want, just as the old ones did. So, how can we repair this disconnect? How can we make office holders accountable and representative again? Read below the fold...
Joseph M. Firestone and Nancy Bordier begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting
We think most people agree that money has corrupted our politics. Some even think that we now live in a Plutocracy, and not in a Democracy, and that both parties are corrupted and now represent only the financial oligarchy. So, the central issue of our time is how can we break its hold? How can we overcome the influence of money in politics and make our political system more responsive to most Americans once again? Read below the fold...