By Martin Gilens
Can a rustic be a democracy if its govt in basic terms responds to the personal tastes of the wealthy? In an awesome democracy, all voters must have equivalent effect on govt policy—but as this booklet demonstrates, America's policymakers reply nearly completely to the personal tastes of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality within the usa has advanced over the past numerous many years and the way this becoming disparity has been formed via curiosity teams, events, and elections.
With sharp research and a powerful diversity of information, Martin Gilens seems to be at hundreds of thousands of proposed coverage adjustments, and the measure of aid for every between terrible, middle-class, and prosperous americans. His findings are brilliant: while personal tastes of low- or middle-income americans diverge from these of the prosperous, there's almost no dating among coverage results and the needs of much less advantaged teams. against this, prosperous Americans' personal tastes express a considerable dating with coverage results no matter if their personal tastes are shared by means of lower-income teams or now not. Gilens indicates that representational inequality is unfold largely throughout diverse coverage domain names and time classes. but Gilens additionally indicates that less than particular conditions the personal tastes of the center classification and, to a lesser volume, the negative, do appear to topic. particularly, approaching elections—especially presidential elections—and a good partisan department in Congress mitigate representational inequality and advance responsiveness to the personal tastes of the wider public.
At a time whilst monetary and political inequality within the usa merely maintains to upward push, Affluence and Influence increases vital questions on even if American democracy is actually responding to the desires of all its voters.
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Extra info for Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America
First, efforts to convince others to support or oppose a given policy are central to political life, and these efforts nearly always involve some degree of biased information, dubious argument, and so on. While the degree of bias, misinformation, and misleading argument need not be equal among all parties to political debate, such tactics are employed by the Left as well as the Right, by Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party activists, and liberal and conservative bloggers, and even by friends and acquaintances who are more likely to make a case for favoring or opposing a given policy than to attempt to lay out a set of arguments highlighting both the pros and cons.
13 Many subsequent assessments of Americans’ political preferences have been only slightly more hopeful. After examining hundreds of survey measures of political information, for example, Michael Delli Carpini and Scott Keeter conclude that “more than a small fraction of the public 18 • Chapter 1 is reasonably well informed about politics—informed enough to meet high standards of good citizenship. ”14 But the flip side of this coin is that a large proportion of the public does not rise to this level.
While we would not expect, and perhaps not desire, a perfect correspondence between majority opinion and government policy on every issue, large and persistent inequalities in responsiveness to public preferences impugn our understanding of America as a democratic society. In the following pages I look first at the role assigned to the public according to different understandings of democracy and then assess how well the public can be expected to fulfill this role, given what we known about the nature of public opinion and the modest levels of political knowledge and engagement of the American citizenry.
Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America by Martin Gilens