Letter: Opiate of the masses

Published: Wednesday, April 30 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

In April of this year, Martin Gillens and Benjamin I. Page, a pair of political scientists from Princeton and Northwestern universities, published the results of their in-depth study of American public policy surveys between 1981 and 2002. Their conclusions struck at the very heart of many Americans' faith in democratic government.

Despite the fact that Americans celebrate various freedoms, including the the privilege of voting, they announced 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 ... Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.”

If this study is correct to any significant degree, the rite of voting is nothing more than (to borrow a phrase) “the opiate of the masses.” The electoral process for national candidates would be no more than kabuki theater to convince ordinary Americans that they have a say in public policy.

Steven Yorgason

Sandy

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