Americans are sick of politics. Only 13 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, a near record low. The President’s approval ratings are also in the basement.
A large portion of the public doesn’t even bother voting. Only 57.5 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election.
Put simply, most Americans feel powerless, and assume the political game is fixed. So why bother?
A new study scheduled to be published in this fall by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern University’s Benjamin Page confirms our worst suspicions.
Gilens and Page analyzed 1,799 policy issues in detail, determining the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups, and average citizens.
Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
Instead, lawmakers respond to the policy demands of wealthy individuals and monied business interests — those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.
Before you’re tempted to say “duh,” wait a moment. Gilens’ and Page’s data come from the period 1981 to 2002. This was before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in “Citizens United,” prior to SuperPACs, and before the Wall Street bailout.