We've known this was coming. The America that Republicans have always wanted is finally here. It took years of intentional erosion of economic safeguards and institutional oversight. But this should not have surprised anyone. The signs were everywhere. It began with Reagan and his trickle-down economics, the policy whereby the rich feasted and the middle class fought for the leftover bread crumbs. In the '90s Newt Gingrich delivered a right cross to equality with his "contract with America" manifesto that shredded liberal policies. Rush Limbaugh landed a vicious upper cut by demonizing the poor which made it okay to protect the very rich.
In the 2000s Bush and the Tea Party congress staggered democracy by rewarding the rich with unworthy tax breaks. The Supreme Court scored the knockout punch by dismantling campaign finance rules. Now the 1% can limitlessly buy elections, corrupt politicians and strip away corporate and financial regulations. And now it's official, we are at the mercy of the ruling class. Or so says a new study from Princeton University, which declares that democracy no longer exists. In an OpEd News article published today, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page state:
"...over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power." Compiling data from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2008, Gilens and Page conclude that rich, well-connected individuals now control the direction of the country, regardless of the will of the majority of voters. "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy...while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
Left unchecked, the new American plutocracy will soon end Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; deregulate financial markets to pre-collapse state; make it more difficult than ever for middle-class students to get a college education; restrict access to health care; and continue to enact policies which will enrich themselves at the expense of all others. In other words, in the coming years it will be harder and harder for average Americans to not only dig themselves out of the subjugated class, but merely survive. By the middle of the 21st century there will be no recourse for the 99% but to shut up, obey, bend over, and cry, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?"
As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have all wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can't have both."