United States Oligarchy

1814 Words 8 Pages
James M. Keating
Dr. Paul Landow
PSCI 8040
26 September 2014
Midterm Essay: The United States of an Oligarchy
Based on common public discourse, left leaning circles from revolutionaries to communists love to point out the inconsistencies of democracy. The United States is always at the forefront of that conversation because of their overwhelming economic and military might (although the economic gulf that exists today is smaller than the decade following the Cold War). As the perceived democratic world leader, leftists ranging from Noam Chomsky (libertarian socialist) to Russell Brand (revolutionary), spend a majority of their time calling out the U.S. and the West for their tendency to appease to multinational corporations,
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The debate of Dahl’s definition is out of the scope of this essay, but I bring up that point because Dahl doesn’t necessary disagree with the idea that very few people influence politics. Dahl believes the silent decision maker of policy is a decentralized population that uses competing interest groups (Dahl 1961, chapter 6). Dahl’s argument is very limited in the fact that he used only one case study. Surely if his methods were expanded to a national scale, many unforeseen variables would play a role in the …show more content…
citizen is unattentive to legislation and thusly making themselves largely ignorant about politics as a whole. So who is to say that the policy preferences of the commoners are preferable to that of the elites? One could argue that leaders possess a far greater knowledge of public policy. The author of this essay is not inclined to believe the above statement but simply trying to highlight possibly assumptions and counter arguments to the Gilens-Page study.
Another potential weakness is that what the Gilens-Page study argues, that the U.S. is an oligarchy, is very far from a new one. The argument was first made through scholarly literature in the 1930s. “If this be democracy, we need not quarrel about names. But whatever the label, the fact remains that for most practical purposes; we are ruled by a few powerful and selfish groups” (Mallet-Prevost 1933, 171). Lastly, the study cannot distinguish which elites, or what organized interests is more effective or influence can achieving its policy aims in contrast to low commoners support.

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