Is America an oligarchy rather than a democracy?

Picture of the White House with storm clouds hovering over it

A provocative article from the highly respected New Yorker magazine.

For your info, the Oxford dictionary defines ‘oligarchy’ as a small group of people having control of a country or organisation.

Why do the rich tend to have greater influence over government policy in most parts of the world, including America? One explanation is outright corruption of course, which countries such as Nigeria, Myanmar and Russia are notorious for. Another is political donations. Wealthy individuals and corporations contribute very substantial sums of money to political parties in the US and elsewhere. Yet another is personal relationships between top business people and politicians, who may have attended the same elite schools and move among the same rarefied circles.

Given the massive influence that the wealthy wield over governments, it is worth asking the question: does true democracy even exist in this world?

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From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy.

“Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” Gilens and Page write:

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that 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.

The article continues here.

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About gptuitionsg

A dedicated English and GP tutor with First Class Honours from NUS, Steven Ooi retired from the profession after a 14-year career during which he was one of the most sought-after private tutors in Singapore. He is the recipient of the Minerva Prize from NUS, which is awarded to the top English Language honours student. This website, which has consistently ranked among the top 10 on Google for GP tutors and has received over 380,000 hits, has now been converted into a GP blog cum listing of recommended tutors. If you are a GP or English tutor who wishes to be listed here, please email Steven Ooi at stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (pls remove the spaces). Interested parties will be vetted and interviewed personally by webmaster Steven Ooi, and qualifications will be checked to uphold quality standards. DISCLAIMER: While every reasonable effort has been made to assess the competence and verify the qualifications of recommended tutors here, no guarantees are made and you engage them at your own risk. By using this website, you agree that you will not hold the webmaster Steven Ooi responsible for any consequences — direct or otherwise — that occur in relation with your use of this website.
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