Click to confirm you are 18 yrs of age or older and open
Click to confirm you want to see post
Many studies have been done to determine who the politicians in our state and federal governments actually represent, and we get the same answer every time. Democrats work for the middle and working class, and Republicans work for the rich and powerful.
This is unlikely to surprise most of us here, but perhaps it is time for Democratic candidates to sock this home in their campaign ads and speeches. After all, it isn't just an opinion, it is the finding of a number studies, and when we look at policies that come out of GOP rule it couldn't be clearer. Party matters!
As an aside, in the studies represented here, Republicans were less likely to represent their constituents' ideologies no matter what their income! (thus the idea that they seem to be working for themselves rather than the people.)
Even more exasperating, there is also a case to be made from these studies, showing that it is possible that the U.S. government may be one made by interest groups, in which voters aren't really listened to at all.
Space only permits a small potion of the article thathas written for VOX, but please read the entire article, as it has some amazing tables and diagrams to prove the points that political scientists are making in these four studies.
Political scientists are finding an alarming pattern.
If you think American politics is a rigged shell game, where the views of the rich and powerful count but those of regular Americans don’t, then two prominent political scientists agree with you.
Gilens and Page found that the model that best predicted policy outcomes based on public opinion was "Economic-Elite Domination" — where the rich have influence, and the rest do not.
But since then, new research has painted a more nuanced, and in many ways more intriguing, portrait of how well or poorly Washington represents the views of the American people. This research suggests that not all politicians ignore the views of the poor and middle class.
Democratic elected officials are much likelier to share the policy opinions of the poor or middle class on economic policy, while Republican officials are likelier to diverge from middle-class public opinion in favor of representing the views of the wealthy.
In other words, Congress isn’t just an undifferentiated mass ignoring what the public thinks. Party matters.
Using big data to see if members of Congress agree with their rich or poor constituents, . . . .four papers in particular have all suggested a strong difference between how Republican and Democratic politicians represent public opinion.
- Representation could be egalitarian: The representative does an equally good job reflecting the views of her poor, middle-class, and rich constituents.
- Or it could be populist: The representative’s views more closely match those of her poor and middle-class constituents than those of her rich constituents.
- Finally, it could be oligarchic: The representative more closely matches the views of rich constituents than poor constituents.
Democratic representatives provided populist representation: They matched the views of their poor constituents more than those of their rich constituents. The opposite was true for Republicans: Republicans matched their rich constituents better than their poor ones.
Republicans were less likely to match with their constituents' ideologies overall — whether those constituents were poor or wealthy. A wealthy constituent would get about the same level of ideology match from a Democrat or a Republican. It’s just that the match would be on the low end compared to other constituents for a Democrat, and on the high end for a Republican.
The four papers all show something crucial when thinking about how Congress and policymakers represent the public: party matters. Rather than Democrats and Republicans both sharing views with the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, you see a more complex pattern. Especially on economic issues, it appears that Democrats respond more to the poor and middle class, and Republicans more to the affluent.
"More troubling, affluent Americans may hear official opinions first, meaning we would observe a greater association between their opinions and policy even if the true channel of influence were from government to the affluent."
This interpretation, if true, is immensely troubling. The problem, in the world, is not that elected officials just listen to the rich. It’s that they, for the most part, don’t “listen” to anyone — and instead the rich are the only ones who listen to politicians. In this scenario, we don’t even have a kind of elitist, limited suffrage democracy where only the rich are listened to. We have a government by interest groups in which voters-qua-voters aren’t really listened to at all.