Are the interests of the rich taken into account by lawmakers? Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page compared two data sets taken by their building data science teams. On the one hand, almost 1,800 surveys in which the opinions of the Americans were collected on concrete political decisions; on the other hand, how Washington actually decided on these issues. It was about legislative proposals from 20 years of US politics, whether on taxes, education or environmental protection. Sometimes a President of the Democrats ruled, sometimes a Republican.
Billionaires influence on politics not just an American phenomenon
The result of the two scientists: It doesn’t matter what the average American earns about a proposed law. Regardless of whether there are many or few middle-class members behind a law, the likelihood that it will be passed remains roughly the same. It doesn’t matter the opinion of the richest 10 percent of Americans. If you support a law, the chances of it getting through are much better. If they reject a law, Congress will say no in more than four out of five cases in Washington.
The fact that the Americans have so far accepted or even supported the fact that super-rich political influence is bought and that laws correspond to the interests of the wealthy can only be explained by the fact that wealth – including excessive wealth – is much more positive in the United States.
“People like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are American heroes, and almost no one envies their money,” says Martin Klepper, professor of American literature and culture at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
The American myth of self-made man is responsible for this, i.e. the unconditional belief that if you are clever and efficient, you can make it to the top. The traditionally good image of the rich also has religious roots. The Pilgrim Fathers who settled in what is now the United States in the 17th century
The Unconditional Approval Crumbles
“But my feeling is that this unconditional approval of wealth is now crumbling,” says Klepper, “that there is increasing critical scrutiny in the interest of which small group politics is taking place.” Because everyone can see that the gap between rich and poor is in the United States is getting bigger. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Americans now find that money plays too big a role in the election campaign and that the financing of the campaigns must change fundamentally.
Lawrence Lessig, a law professor from Harvard University, has long called for the influence of major donors to be limited. One of his suggestions is that every small donation from tax revenue is doubled so that politicians make more efforts.In 2015, he even announced his presidential candidacy for the Democrats. If he got the job, Lessig said, the first thing he would do was change the controversial campaign funding – and then step down, after all, the most important reform had been initiated to save the United States from the super-rich. You will not find out whether this is true at first. Lessig threw down a few months later, and Donald Trump later became a darling of the billionaires’ president.