The very very rich. Of course. Again.
This is one of the best explanations you can find about it, because Jeffrey Sachs has not wrapped the facts in emotion, but is just laying it all out there in a way anyone should be able to understand.
Once again, it’s not about D vs. R. And if you buy into that story, you have been bamboozled:
The evidence is overwhelming that politicians vote the interests of their donors, not of society at large. This has now been demonstrated rigorously by many researchers, most notably Princeton Professor Martin Gilens. Whether the Republicans or Democrats are in office, the results are little different. The interests at the top of the income distribution will prevail.
Why does the actual vote count for so little? People vote for individuals, not directly for policies. They may elect a politician running on a platform for change, but the politician once elected will then vote for the positions of the big campaign donors. The political outcomes are therefore oriented toward great wealth rather than to mainstream public opinion, the point that Gilens and others have been finding in their detailed research. (See also the study by Page, Bartels, and Seawright).
It’s not easy for the politicians to shun the campaign funds even if they want to. Money works in election campaigns. It pays for attack ads that flood the media, and it pays for elaborate and sophisticated get-out-the-vote efforts that target households at the micro level to manipulate who does and does not go to the polls. Campaigning without big money is like unilateral disarmament. It’s noble; it works once in a while; and it is extremely risky. On the other hand, taking big campaign money is a Faustian bargain: you may win power but lose your political soul.
Yes, yes, yes, of course there are modest differences between the parties, and there is a wonderful, truly progressive wing of the Democratic Party organized in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but it’s marginalized and in the minority of the party. So many Democrats have their hand in the fossil-fuel cookie jar of Big Oil and Big Coal that the Obama administration couldn’t get even the Democrats, much less the Republicans, to line up for climate-change action during the first year of the administration. And how do Wall Street money managers keep their tax privileges despite the public glare? Their success in lobbying is due at least as much to Democratic Party Senators beholden to Wall Street as it is to Republican Senators.
My only minor nitpick about this article is that it isn’t really the 1% who is buying the government, it’s the 0.1%, or maybe even the 0.01%. The 3 million people in that in between area, from 1% to .1% or 0.01%, are big, big financiers of the government and that top elite. They have enough money that it is worth taking, but not enough to actually buy any influence.