The Bottom Third

THE BOTTOM THIRD….Over at TPMCafe, Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels is talking about his new book, Unequal Democracy. Here’s one of the results of his research:

Insofar as elected officials are responsive to the policy views of their constituents, only the views of affluent and middle-class people really matter. The preferences of millions of low-income citizens (in the bottom third of the income distribution) have no discernible effect on senators’ roll call votes, whether we consider the whole range of issues that come before Congress or specific salient roll call votes focusing on the federal budget, the minimum wage, civil rights, and abortion. Aristotle wrote that “where the possession of political power is due to the possession of economic power or wealth … that is oligarchy, and when the unpropertied class have power, that is democracy.” By that standard, America is, at best, a very unequal democracy.


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