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    Thread: New study rules US an Oligarchy rather than a Democracy

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      New study rules US an Oligarchy rather than a Democracy

      https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/14

      (Here's a link directly to the abstract: http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gi...s%203-7-14.pdf)

      So you had your suspicion that the US wasn't exactly a democracy, but denouncing it as tyranny is no longer merely rhetoric. Once you examine the actual influence voters wield over Public Policy, there's no debate. With less than 1% influence, American Voters are more like another meaningless interest group in a flood of political pressures.

      Quote Originally Posted by From the Abstract
      Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
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      That's just leftist 99%'er hippie propaganda.

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      It might be laughable to a Canadian but we've always remained in a tenuous debate in the US, and referring to it as something other than a democracy has come off as hyperbole. I mean yeah, it's always been a corrupt democracy, but it was still technically a democracy. Now it's factually incorrect to call America a democracy. From a scientific standpoint, the one referring to it as Democracy is the one using colorful rhetoric, not the other way around.

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      The politicians still care about votes because we still decide who is in power, though money buys big propaganda for influencing the voters and is an influence on politicians to a major extent. Still, as long as we vote our politicians in and out of office, we have a democracy. If you disagree, you are a racist.
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      That's what I thought, but it turns out, it doesn't actually matter. The whole point of a representative democracy is that public opinion sways the way the politician votes. Thus Majoritarian Pluralism, albeit not a perfect system, is still supposed to dictate public policy. That's how you define a democracy, even cynically it's tyranny by the majority.

      If you were right, that it's due to propaganda, then that would mean that the propaganda machine would work to influence public opinion in a way that supports the will of the Oligarchy. But politicians don't give a flying fuck about public opinion, it no longer influences the way they vote.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      I think there are multiple factors involved. One is caring what the voters think because we are in a position to decide if they win elections. Another is caring what the lobbyists think because money has a major influence on the greedy. Politicians in the U.S. pretty much do a balancing act with those factors and others, and a whole lot of bullshit comes out of their mouths because of it. We also have a lot of dysfunctional laws because of it.
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      If you read the article, it's pretty conclusive there's no balancing act involved. There's a farce of one, that's about it.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      If you read the article, it's pretty conclusive there's no balancing act involved. There's a farce of one, that's about it.
      Are you saying that the voting system is a complete farce now? Then why do politicians get on T.V. all the time and talk complete bullshit that has people loving them? Almost everybody in Congress tries to sell used cars every time they open their mouths. What is the point of buttering people up so much if their votes don't matter?
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      I'm saying that voting affects the lip service a candidate gives during the election, not the voting record of the candidate you're represented by. If public opinion does not affect the way they vote, then they're not representing the people, and therefore this is not a representative democracy.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      I'm saying that voting affects the lip service a candidate gives during the election, not the voting record of the candidate you're represented by. If public opinion does not affect the way they vote, then they're not representing the people, and therefore this is not a representative democracy.
      That is true to a major extent, but there a lot of Americans who do care about whether candidates do what they say they are going to do. Obama gets ragged by millions of people every day for how much he has gone against his campaign promises. I think that if Bush 41 hadn't said, "Read my lips. No new taxes," he would have gotten reelected. Even if what you are saying applied to everybody, I would blame the people even more than the politicians for how screwed up things have gotten. The people still have the power. We are just not using it like we should.
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      I'd hate to be obtuse here but Science, Bitch. People do care whether politicians follow through with their campaign promises, but the politicians don't because what people care about doesn't affect them.

      You can speculate that Bush wouldn't have lost his re-election for any number of reasons, it's speculation. And moreso, it's irrelevant because it's pre-Citizens United speculation. The transformation to Oligarchy is a recent development related to more and more pro-corporatist rulings made by the Supreme Court, the latest of them being that money=speech.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      I'd hate to be obtuse here but Science, Bitch. People do care whether politicians follow through with their campaign promises, but the politicians don't because what people care about doesn't affect them.

      You can speculate that Bush wouldn't have lost his re-election for any number of reasons, it's speculation. And moreso, it's irrelevant because it's pre-Citizens United speculation. The transformation to Oligarchy is a recent development related to more and more pro-corporatist rulings made by the Supreme Court, the latest of them being that money=speech.
      "Bitch?" Are you getting gangsta on me, you little tulip?

      You are arguing that politicians don't care whether they get reelected. That is just false. They put a lot of money and effort into their campaigns. They also act phony as $7 bills by smiling and trying to sound like they are super nice every time they speak publicly. What is your hypothesis on why they do that?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Voting in the US is about as meaningful as voting in Rome, c. 200 AD. It's just an ex-post-facto justification for power. This is a hard pill to swallow, but it's the truth.

      You can exercise more political power by not voting. If a politician wins the election with only 10% of the electorate actually voting for him (which will happen soon enough), then that opens the door to change.
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      Ha!! How fitting - thanks for the thread Original Poster, so I can put this "nice" article from 2012 in here, which I read lately!
      Since I know, people don't tend to click and read - I transfer the whole thing - just scroll down, anybody disinterested! wink.gif

      Plutocracy, Paralysis, Perplexity

      Quote Originally Posted by New York Times
      Before the Great Recession, I would sometimes give public lectures in which I would talk about rising inequality, making the point that the concentration of income at the top had reached levels not seen since 1929. Often, someone in the audience would ask whether this meant that another depression was imminent.

      Did the rise of the 1 percent (or, better yet, the 0.01 percent) cause the Lesser Depression we’re now living through? It probably contributed. But the more important point is that inequality is a major reason the economy is still so depressed and unemployment so high. For we have responded to crisis with a mix of paralysis and confusion — both of which have a lot to do with the distorting effects of great wealth on our society.

      Put it this way: If something like the financial crisis of 2008 had occurred in, say, 1971 — the year Richard Nixon declared that “I am now a Keynesian in economic policy” — Washington would probably have responded fairly effectively. There would have been a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of strong action, and there would also have been wide agreement about what kind of action was needed.

      But that was then. Today, Washington is marked by a combination of bitter partisanship and intellectual confusion — and both are, I would argue, largely the result of extreme income inequality.

      On partisanship: The Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have been making waves with a new book acknowledging a truth that, until now, was unmentionable in polite circles.
      They say our political dysfunction is largely because of the transformation of the Republican Party into an extremist force that is “dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” You can’t get cooperation to serve the national interest when one side of the divide sees no distinction between the national interest and its own partisan triumph.

      So how did that happen? For the past century, political polarization has closely tracked income inequality, and there’s every reason to believe that the relationship is causal. Specifically, money buys power, and the increasing wealth of a tiny minority has effectively bought the allegiance of one of our two major political parties, in the process destroying any prospect for cooperation.

      And the takeover of half our political spectrum by the 0.01 percent is, I’d argue, also responsible for the degradation of our economic discourse, which has made any sensible discussion of what we should be doing impossible.

      Disputes in economics used to be bounded by a shared understanding of the evidence, creating a broad range of agreement about economic policy. To take the most prominent example, Milton Friedman may have opposed fiscal activism, but he very much supported monetary activism to fight deep economic slumps, to an extent that would have put him well to the left of center in many current debates.

      Now, however, the Republican Party is dominated by doctrines formerly on the political fringe. Friedman called for monetary flexibility; today, much of the G.O.P. is fanatically devoted to the gold standard. N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University, a Romney economic adviser, once dismissed those claiming that tax cuts pay for themselves as “charlatans and cranks”; today, that notion is very close to being official Republican doctrine.

      As it happens, these doctrines have overwhelmingly failed in practice. For example, conservative goldbugs have been predicting vast inflation and soaring interest rates for three years, and have been wrong every step of the way. But this failure has done nothing to dent their influence on a party that, as Mr. Mann and Mr. Ornstein note, is “unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science.”

      And why is the G.O.P. so devoted to these doctrines regardless of facts and evidence? It surely has a lot to do with the fact that billionaires have always loved the doctrines in question, which offer a rationale for policies that serve their interests. Indeed, support from billionaires has always been the main thing keeping those charlatans and cranks in business. And now the same people effectively own a whole political party.

      Which brings us to the question of what it will take to end this depression we’re in.

      Many pundits assert that the U.S. economy has big structural problems that will prevent any quick recovery. All the evidence, however, points to a simple lack of demand, which could and should be cured very quickly through a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

      No, the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority. And the key to economic recovery lies in finding a way to get past that minority’s malign influence.

      Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
      Paul Krugman
      Go to Columnist Page
      Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal
      Related in Opinion

      Editorial: Inequality, Debt and the Financial Crisis (May 4, 2012)
      This is how it looks from "outside" as well - the sentiments about the political right and the republican party resonate quite nicely with my overall impression - a rather superficial impression, but anyway.
      And the American political system seems to be prone to paralysis and deadlock inherently.

      Waddayathink, everybodies?

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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      "Bitch?" Are you getting gangsta on me, you little tulip?

      You are arguing that politicians don't care whether they get reelected. That is just false. They put a lot of money and effort into their campaigns. They also act phony as $7 bills by smiling and trying to sound like they are super nice every time they speak publicly. What is your hypothesis on why they do that?
      Like I said, voting affects lip service. If it affected more than lip service, then public opinion would have more than 1% influence on legislation.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Names (and likely future name) of presidents from 1988 to 2016:

      Bush
      Clinton
      Clinton
      Bush
      Bush
      Obama*
      Obama*
      Clinton**

      *Obama was heavily supported by the Clintons, and Hillary almost won the nomination.
      **Hillary will most likely win 2016 considering that the GOP is fractured.

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      This study is more indicative of our legislative branch than our executive branch, even if Hilary wins the presidency, like StephL's quote explains, the GOP inhibits legislation that doesn't favor the .01% because the party is essentially owned by them. The DNC is also completely backed by big money and has to be now that money = speech. They have no choice but to play ball. It's all designed this way. The GOP puts forward the scariest pro-supply side candidate they can so electing right-of-Nixon candidates like Obama is suddenly the "progressive choice."
      StephL and Darkmatters like this.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      Like I said, voting affects lip service. If it affected more than lip service, then public opinion would have more than 1% influence on legislation.
      What about all of the money and fake smiles? What's the point of it? Why don't they just act like pricks in front of cameras?

      Even if politicians don't care about votes, which I am far from believing is the case, how does it mean the people don't have power? Why couldn't it just mean that the people are not using their power?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Like I said, voting affects lip service. It does not affect public policy.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    20. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by Original Poster View Post
      Like I said, voting affects lip service. It does not affect public policy.
      Why does it affect "lip service?" Why would a politician put millions of dollars into a campaign, shake thousands of people's hands, and hold a bunch of babies? What's the point?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


    21. #21
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      What about all of the money and fake smiles? What's the point of it? Why don't they just act like pricks in front of cameras?
      Divide and conquer. Bread and circus. Etc, etc.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      Why does it affect "lip service?" Why would a politician put millions of dollars into a campaign, shake thousands of people's hands, and hold a bunch of babies? What's the point?
      None of those things relate to public policy. In order to get to the position where they can even compete for handshakes and smiles they have to get big money. In order to get big money, they have to agree to endorse a particular policy and vote a certain way. This means they're only a major candidate because your opinion will not affect their policy.
      Last edited by Original Poster; 04-20-2014 at 02:43 AM.
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      You're not answering my questions, OP.

      cmind, are you saying that campaigns are just big acts that make it look like the voting system works? If so, what would be the point of the deception? What would be the point of swaying public opinion if it is worth nothing?
      Last edited by Universal Mind; 04-20-2014 at 02:54 AM.

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      When I say "they're only a major candidate because your opinion will not affect their policy" I am, indeed, answering your question. You haven't heard of them if they don't serve the elite. This is not just presidential campaigns, either. Though they hold the most attention, money = speech has instrumentally changed even the priorities of congressmen so that they're no longer affected by public opinion, either.

      I still think elections could change this, but it's an awful long shot at this point. We need two third party candidates on each side of the fence to steal votes away from the major candidates and grab at least 15% of the vote each. One third of the country has to realize the republicrats are the problem.
      Last edited by Original Poster; 04-20-2014 at 02:56 AM.
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    25. #25
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      No, that does not answer my question. What is the GOAL of a campaign?

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