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Tue May 5, 2015, 03:27 AM

How America Became an Oligarchy

According to a new study from Princeton University, American democracy no longer exists. Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of – or even against – the will of the majority of voters. America’s political system has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where power is wielded by wealthy elites.
“Making the world safe for democracy” was President Woodrow Wilson’s rationale for World War I, and it has been used to justify American military intervention ever since. Can we justify sending troops into other countries to spread a political system we cannot maintain at home?

The Magna Carta, considered the first Bill of Rights in the Western world, established the rights of nobles as against the king. But the doctrine that “all men are created equal” – that all people have “certain inalienable rights,” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – is an American original. And those rights, supposedly insured by the Bill of Rights, have the right to vote at their core. We have the right to vote but the voters’ collective will no longer prevails.

In Greece, the left-wing populist Syriza Party came out of nowhere to take the presidential election by storm; and in Spain, the populist Podemos Party appears poised to do the same. But for over a century, no third-party candidate has had any chance of winning a US presidential election. We have a two-party winner-take-all system, in which our choice is between two candidates, both of whom necessarily cater to big money. It takes big money just to put on the mass media campaigns required to win an election involving 240 million people of voting age.

In state and local elections, third party candidates have sometimes won. In a modest-sized city, candidates can actually influence the vote by going door to door, passing out flyers and bumper stickers, giving local presentations, and getting on local radio and TV. But in a national election, those efforts are easily trumped by the mass media. And local governments too are beholden to big money.

When governments of any size need to borrow money, the megabanks in a position to supply it can generally dictate the terms. Even in Greece, where the populist Syriza Party managed to prevail in January, the anti-austerity platform of the new government is being throttled by the moneylenders who have the government in a chokehold.
How did we lose our democracy? ..................................................................................................................


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Reply How America Became an Oligarchy (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter May 2015 OP
merrily May 2015 #1

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Tue May 5, 2015, 03:50 AM

1. Became? I always thought we started that way.

East India Company
Governors appointed by the King
John Hancock
slave traders and slave owners, including Washington and Jefferson (the guy who wrote the initial drafts of "all men are created equal"
A Constitutional convention that supported slaveowners and mistrusted ordinary voters, even though the voters then were only about 6% of the population

The Gilded Age

"Making the world safe for democracy?" Remember the [strike]Maine[/strike] Lusitannia? Did anyone over 40 really buy either one of those then, any more than we bought "bringing democracy to the Middle East" from Bushco? I have my doubts.

When was America NOT an oligarchy?

But yes, since the 1980s, lobbyists at the state and federal levels have definitely increased exponentially. The rich keep getting richer and getting more and more power.

Talking about the government taking back power doesn't resonate with me. The government has always had power. That's why lobbyists flocked to government. What really has to happen is our elected representative have to stop selling out our interests to big business.

What are we to do about it? Call our Congressional Representative? Okay.

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