The number of Americans for or against any idea has no impact on the likelihood
that Congress will make it law.
Have you ever felt like the government doesn’t really care
what you think?
Professors Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin
I. Page (Northwestern University) looked at more than 20 years worth of data to
answer a simple question:
Does the government represent the people?
Their study took data from nearly 2000 public opinion surveys
and compared it to the policies that ended up becoming law. In other words, they
compared what the public wanted to what the government actually did. What they
found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of 90% of Americans have
essentially no impact at all.
Princeton University study: Public opinion has
“near-zero” impact on U.S. law.
Gilens & Page found that the number of Americans for or
against any idea has no impact on
the likelihood that Congress will make it law.
“The preferences of the average American appear to have only
a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public
One thing that does have an influence? Money.
While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a
“statistically non-significant impact,” Economic elites, business interests, and
people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.
Nearly every issue we face as a nation is caught in the grip
From taxation to national debt, education to the
economy, America is struggling to address our most serious issues.Moneyed
interests get what they want, and the rest of us pay the price.
They spend billions influencing America’s government. We give
them trillions in return.
In the last 5 years alone, the 200 most politically active
companies in the US spent $5.8 billion influencing our government
with lobbying and campaign contributions.
Those same companies got $4.4 trillion in taxpayer
support — earning a return of 750 times their investment.
It’s a vicious cycle of legalized corruption.
As the cost of winning elections explodes, politicians of both
political parties become ever more dependent on the tiny slice of the population
who can bankroll their campaigns.
To win a Senate seat in 2014, candidates had
to raise $14,351 every single day. Just .05% of
Americans donate more than $10,000 in any election, so it’s perfectly clear who
candidates will turn to first, and who they’re indebted to when they win.
In return for campaign donations, elected officials pass laws
that are good for their mega-donors, and bad for the rest of us.
Our elected officials spend 30-70% of their time in
office fundraising for the next election. When they’re not fundraising,
they have no choice but to make sure the laws they pass keep their major
donors happy — or they won’t be able to run in the next election.
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