Debate Magazine

New Study Finds Ordinary Americans Have No Impact on Public Policy

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Click pic to enlarge!

9-12-2009 march on WashingtonPhoto by Michael A. Beck

Do you remember the Tea Party March on Washington, D.C., of Sept. 12, 2009? At least a million marched, but nothing changed.

A new study confirms our frustration at making ourselves heard. We ordinary Americans have a near-zero impact on public policy, which instead is controlled and determined by monied élites.

Wynton Hall reports for Breitbart, Aug. 12, 2014, that according to the study by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” which will be published in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Politics, corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control U.S. policy to such a degree that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

You can read an early draft of their study here.

Noted American University Historian Allan J. Lichtman highlighted the piece in a Tuesday article published in The Hill. Lichtman calls Gilens and Page’s research “shattering” and says their scholarship “should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government.”

Gilens and Page’s statistical research looked at public attitudes on nearly 1,800 policy issues and determined that government almost always ignores the opinions of average citizens and adopts the policy preferences of monied business interests when shaping U.S. laws.

The study’s findings align with recent trends, where corporate elites have aggressively pursued pro-amnesty policies despite the fact that, according to the most recent Reuters poll, a bipartisan 70% of Americans believe illegal immigrants threaten the U.S. economy and our traditional beliefs and customs.

Gilens and Page propose that the solution is a reinvigorated and engaged electorate because “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.”

Declaration of Independence

238 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was the clarion call of a populist revolution to install “a government by the people, for the people, and of the people.” The Declaration declared that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

So is the Declaration’s promise a chimera? Given the Gilens-Page research findings, what do we do? Do we give up and sink into apathy, thereby ensuring the élite’s grip on power? Or do we harken to Thomas Jefferson’s undying words:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

See also “A message for apathetic Christians and Conservatives“


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog