Download Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political by Martin Gilens PDF

By Martin Gilens

Can a rustic be a democracy if its govt merely responds to the personal tastes of the wealthy? In a fantastic democracy, all electorate must have equivalent impression on govt policy—but as this booklet demonstrates, America's policymakers reply virtually completely to the personal tastes of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality within the usa has advanced over the past a number of many years and the way this becoming disparity has been formed by means of curiosity teams, events, and elections.

With sharp research and a magnificent variety of information, Martin Gilens appears at hundreds of thousands of proposed coverage alterations, and the measure of help for every between terrible, middle-class, and prosperous americans. His findings are unbelievable: whilst personal tastes of low- or middle-income american citizens diverge from these of the prosperous, there's nearly no dating among coverage results and the wishes of much less advantaged teams. against this, prosperous Americans' personal tastes express a considerable courting with coverage results even if their personal tastes are shared by means of lower-income teams or now not. Gilens exhibits that representational inequality is unfold greatly throughout various coverage domain names and time classes. but Gilens additionally exhibits that lower than particular conditions the personal tastes of the center classification and, to a lesser quantity, the negative, do appear to topic. specifically, drawing close elections—especially presidential elections—and an excellent partisan department in Congress mitigate representational inequality and improve responsiveness to the personal tastes of the wider public.

At a time while financial and political inequality within the usa merely keeps to upward thrust, Affluence and Influence increases vital questions about no matter if American democracy is really responding to the wishes of all its voters.

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Additional resources for Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

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5 But what might the basis of this choice be? If voters are unable to form sensible policy preferences, as minimalist theories of democracy suggest, how can they decide which candidate they prefer? The least demanding basis for choosing among competing candidates is a simple evaluation of the incumbent officeholder’s performance, as elaborated in theories of retrospective voting. According to the retrospective voting model, citizens need not form preferences on a multitude of political issues but simply assess the performance of the incumbent politician or administration.

One source of nonrandom error in preference formation is misinformation that leads most or all members of the public to shift their policy preferences in the same direction. For example, John Kennedy and others claimed during the late 1950s that the United States was facing a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union. In retrospect it is clear not only that was there no missile gap (the United States maintained a considerable advantage in nuclear missiles), but that good evidence was available at the time demonstrating the absence of such a gap.

Rousseauean notions of the General Will and the direct participation 14 • Chapter 1 of citizens in lawmaking contrast with republican conceptions of checks and balances in a government of elected representatives, while both are distinct from substantive conceptions of democracy involving human rights, freedoms of expression, due process of law, and universal suffrage. Common to all conceptions of democracy is the idea that the power to shape political decisions should be shared widely. But just how citizens are expected to exercise this power varies widely across different democratic theories and different democratic polities.

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