Martin Gilens is a political-science professor at Princeton. Over the course of the past decade, he has authored and coauthored several books and papers in which he argues that the U.S. is essentially an oligarchy. We are controlled by the moneymen, the “1%,” and any claim that our “democracy” is participatory or inclusive is illusory. “Affluence and influence”—that’s what makes the U.S. economic system go ’round. The deck is stacked, and the “liddle peeple” are powerless.
It would seem like growing wealth inequity and Social Darwinisms are making what remnants of democracy left obsolete. Technology is also aiding in the process, amplifying the economic contributions of a handful of ‘winners’. However, this overlooks the issue of people voting in politicians who enlarge welfare spending. Maybe the future if less democracy and more welfare spending – a sort of post -scarcity society where everyone has enough to be placated, but have no power or influence in the process – the ‘un-participatory’ economy and society.
The high incarceration rate of America and the militarization of the police are another examples of how we’re perhaps close to a ‘dark enlightenment’, in contrast to the much less punitive and more ‘liberal’ European countries.
According to Gilens’ research, those dastardly oligarchs, those enemies of the 99%, are overwhelmingly liberal on issues such as abortion, gay rights, race, and immigration. In fact, the affluent are far more “progressive” than the great unwashed whose voices they’ve muted and whose influence they’ve suppressed.
The disproportionate influence of the affluent does not always move policy in a conservative direction. On moral and religious issues, the well off tend to be more liberal than the poor. More equal representation (of the poor) would consequently lead to greater restrictions on abortion, such as banning RU-486. There would also be tighter limits on stem cell research and more support for school prayer.
The poorest and least educated actually tend to vote democratic, not conservative.
“the Democratic agenda has shifted away from general social welfare to policies that target ascriptive identities of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.” The takeaway? The “oligarchs” have pushed to make noneconomic “social justice” issues (especially abortion, race, and gender) the party’s primary focus, at the expense of economic policies that are unpopular among the affluent
I think the distinction here is that classical liberals understand the concept of ‘ownership’, whereas far-left liberals want to spread wealth and abnegate private property through Georgism/land-value taxes and redistribution. I would prefer both social conservatism and property rights, but in a pinch I’ll choose the later at the cost of the former than the former at the cost of the latter.