Gilens on the Disproportionate Influence of the Wealthy

A New York Times article discussing the dangers of private campaign funding cited Public Policy Professor Martin Gilens’ research on the disproportionate influence of wealthy Americans in politics. The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case allowed corporations to spend freely on electioneering, making it easier for wealthy individuals and corporations to translate their economic power into political power. The article cited a dinner party last year at the Trump International Hotel, where wealthy donors spoke to President Trump about their corporate interests. They included the owner of a steel-making company who urged the president to let truck drivers work longer hours, even though studies show that driver fatigue is a frequent factor in fatal crashes. In their 2017 book “Democracy in America?,” Gilens and co-author Benjamin Page illustrate the disproportionate influence that the wealthiest Americans exercise in politics. According to Gilens, wealthy Americans are particularly successful in blocking even broadly popular policies they don’t like.


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