How Does Wealth Inequality Affect Democracy?

Posted on October 10, 2010 by

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How about instead of invading other countries and imposing democracy, we start making our own country a little more democratic?

“A 2004 report from the American Political Science Association, “American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality,” found that “Recent research strikingly documents that the votes of U.S. senator’s rich constituents than with the preferences of the senator’s less-privileged constituents.” The APSA report describes a system in which “inequalities in political voice” augment economic inequality. Campaign contributions and lobbying enable access to politicians, access leads to voice, voice to policy – to tax breaks, subsidies, “earmarks”, regulatory relief, and the power to set the agenda. Meanwhile the voice of Americans who “sweep floors, clean bedpans, or collect garbage” is not heard, discouraging them from voting. Their civic withdrawal enhances the voice of the already advantaged, the 12 percent of American households with incomes over $100,000 who make 95% of all political contributions.

(p xvii of “Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900” by Jack Beatty)

Here is the APSA report “American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality” that was cited.

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