Gilens on Wealth and Political Influence

An Atlantic article about Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s financial situation quotes Public Policy Professor Martin Gilens on the disproportionate impact of wealth on government policy. The article explains that Bloomberg’s self-financed campaign has boosted his ability to compete against other candidates who are unable to adopt the same strategy. Bloomberg is worth an estimated $64 billion, which is 20 times as much as Donald Trump is worth, and his presidential campaign has already poured more than $400 million into advertisements, the article noted. A study co-authored by Gilens found that business lobbies and the wealthy “have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” While money alone is not enough to win the race, the article expressed concern that Bloomberg’s wealth has warped the political system to become plutocratic and elitist.

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