By Martin Gilens
Can a rustic be a democracy if its executive in basic terms responds to the personal tastes of the wealthy? In a fantastic democracy, all voters must have equivalent impression on govt policy—but as this ebook demonstrates, America's policymakers reply nearly 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 a long time and the way this starting to be disparity has been formed via curiosity teams, events, and elections.
With sharp research and a magnificent diversity of information, Martin Gilens appears at millions of proposed coverage adjustments, and the measure of aid for every between negative, middle-class, and prosperous americans. His findings are surprising: whilst personal tastes of low- or middle-income american citizens diverge from these of the prosperous, there's nearly no courting among coverage results and the needs of much less advantaged teams. by contrast, prosperous Americans' personal tastes express a considerable dating with coverage results even if their personal tastes are shared by way of lower-income teams or now not. Gilens indicates that representational inequality is unfold greatly throughout varied coverage domain names and time classes. but Gilens additionally exhibits that below particular conditions the personal tastes of the center category and, to a lesser quantity, the negative, do appear to subject. specifically, approaching elections—especially presidential elections—and a good partisan department in Congress mitigate representational inequality and improve responsiveness to the personal tastes of the wider public.
At a time whilst financial and political inequality within the usa in simple terms maintains to upward push, Affluence and Influence increases very important questions about no matter if American democracy is really responding to the wishes of all its voters.
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Extra resources for Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America
But concerns about such manipulation typically focus on the vulnerability of the least engaged, least educated, and least-well-off members of the public. To the extent that these citizens are most susceptible to elite manipulation, we would expect to find stronger associations between the preferences they express and the policies government adopts. In fact, as the chapters that follow will show, quite the opposite is true. The link between preferences and policy outcomes is strongest for the most affluent Americans and weakest for the poor.
Far from being undemanding, retrospective voting on nonconsensual issue requires both a policy preference and the knowledge of whether the incumbent candidate has helped advance the desired outcome. Consensus issues like economic well-being may appear to avoid the necessity for citizens to form preferences on complex policy issues. But even as seemingly simple a judgment as economic well-being can be quite complex. For example, individual voters must assess the degree to which their own economic fortunes reflect those of the country.
The same logic Citizen Competence • 29 applies to survey questions with more than two valid response categories to the extent that the preferences of respondents who belong in the highest category can only be moved downward while those in the lowest category can only be moved upward. If the true distribution of long-term preferences is asymmetrical, then random errors will not cancel out but will tend to move the recorded mean toward the center of the scale. This sort of nonoffsetting error on policy issues with asymmetric distributions of preferences will dampen the apparent extremity of preferences for the public as a whole.
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