What is Really Wrong with Government

The real problem with American government is that it is not as democratic as it should be. Affluent special interests have too much power in our political system and the public has too little.

While it is crucial to acknowledge all that is right with American government, we must not turn a blind eye to what is wrong with it. Although government on the whole is good, there are things wrong with government – things that need to be fixed. And fixing those problems is necessary if we are to revive Americans’ support for government. The better we can make government, the more we can expect citizens to oppose efforts to undermine this vital institution.

Readers of the other articles on this site might have gotten the impression that I was suggesting that there are no serious problems with American government. But my argument has not been that there is nothing wrong this institution – only that it is not what conservatives say it is. It is simply not the case that government grossly overtaxes us, or that bureaucracies are incredibly wasteful, or that Big Brother is constantly threatening our freedoms. What is wrong is something altogether different – and something more disturbing. The main fault of our government is that it is not as democratic as it should be. We have what some have called a "deficit of democracy."

The problem is that American government is now increasingly responsive to special interests and not the public interest. This is why many people are frustrated and disappointed with our political system. Instead of a democracy where all citizens have an equal say in the governing process, some organizations and individuals have a disproportionate and unfair influence over what the government does. The result is that the power and greed of the few too often win out over the needs of the many.

This problem is getting worse and it is increasingly limiting how good government can be in the United States. The less responsive a government is to its citizens, the less liable it is to act in the public interest. The more it favors the interests of the few over the interests of the many, the less likely it is to do all the good things it could do. Most of the substantial achievements of government described in this book have occurred because it was reacting to demands made by the public to deal with serious social and economic problems. So if we want our government to live up to its potential as a force for good in society, we need it to be as democratic as it can be. That is why it is crucial to understand exactly why our democracy is falling short, and what can be done to fix that.

The Public’s Disappointment with American Democracy

While many politicians ignore our democratic deficit, most Americans are painfully aware of it. Surveys find that they are increasingly concerned that their democratic government is not working for them the way that it should. In the last ten years, the number of people who say that “public officials don’t care about what people like me think” has ranged from 50% to 75% – up from 36% forty years ago. Polls show that many in the public also have a very clear sense of who really is influencing what government does. A clear majority now says that “the government is run by a few big interests looking out only for themselves.”1

This perception – that government is working for the few, not the many – is part of what fuels public hostility toward politicians and government in general. A 2000 survey found that over 60% of respondents cited the undue influence of special interests as a reason for not trusting government.12 The less democratic a government is, the less legitimate its actions are and the more alienated the public becomes. In this book, I have been arguing that much of modern cynicism about government is unfounded – but in this case, it is not. It makes a great deal of sense to be cynical about a government which seems to consistently favor special interests over the public interest. When people feel that they have little say over what government does and see that their government is not working democratically, it is only natural to be distrustful of that institution.

The Real Problem: The Mal-Distribution of Private Power

But while it is natural to lay the blame for our unresponsive public institutions at the doorstep of politicians and the government itself – this is a mistake. Undemocratic government is just the symptom. The ultimate source of this political illness lies in society at large – in the private sector. The real problem is that private economic power – primarily money – is not distributed equally among all citizens. Some people and organizations have very large financial resources that they can then turn into political influence. Private economic power too easily becomes public political power, and this is what is undermining the conditions of political equality that are so essential to a well-functioning democracy.

For a society to be truly democratic, political power must be shared by all – it must be distributed relatively equally among all citizens. All citizens must have a voice in determining government policy. This principle is what lies at the heart of a democracy. And this is what Lincoln was getting at when he described democratic government as being “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Americans understand this principle very well. In surveys, as many as ninety-five percent of them endorse the idea that “every citizen should have an equal chance to influence government policy.”3

If we all have the same basic amount of political power, then government will respond to what most people want – and its actions are more likely to be in the public interest. That is why elections are so crucial to democracies – why they are defining characteristics of democracies. Ideally in elections, we all have the same exact amount of power: our one vote. A suburbanite does not have more votes than a farmer, and a rich person can’t vote more often than a poor one. So the vote is the ultimate form of equal political power. And if it were the only form of political power, our democracy would not be in so much trouble.

But the vote is just one among many other sources of political power. And many of these other sources are located in the private sector where they are distributed very unequally. The result is that instead of being responsive to average Americans, our government is primarily reacting to a powerful elite. And this is undermining the promise of American democracy. The political dangers of this situation were recently highlighted by a task force of distinguished political scientists put together by the American Political Science Association. They issued a disturbing report entitled: American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality.4 They concluded that despite efforts to ensure that all citizens have an equal voice in our political system, increasing levels of economic inequality in the United States are threatening this democratic ideal:

Generations of Americans have worked to equalize citizen voice across lines of income, race, and gender. Today, however, the voices of Americans citizens are raised and heard unequally. The privileged participate more than others and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on government. Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the least affluent. Citizens of lower and moderate incomes speak in a whisper that is lost on the ears of inattentive government officials, while the advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency that policy-makers readily hear and routinely follow.5




The Worsening Problem

The report goes on to conclude that this problem is getting worse. “Recent analysis indicates that the government has become less responsive than it was several decades ago and that it is [now] particularly attentive to the views of the affluent and business leaders.”6 Two developments over the past thirty years have increased political inequality and the disconnection between politicians and the average American. First, the financial disparities between individual Americans – which were large to begin with – have been increasing. The benefits of our growing economy have been accruing disproportionately to those who are already well-off. Not only has the gap between the rich and the poor been widening, but so has the gap between the rich and the traditional white-collar and blue-collar middle class. Here are some disturbing facts about the high level of economic inequality in America and how it is getting worse, not better.7

  • Income is distributed highly unequally in this country. Over half of all income (50.3%) goes to the top fifth income class of families. The income going to the top 5% of richest families (21.7%) is twice the combined income of the bottom 40% –the 110 million Americans living on low and moderate incomes.
  • Income inequality is getting worse. Between 1947 and 1979, the income for all classes of American grew at relatively the same rate. But more recently, between 1979 and 2009, the incomes for the richest 5% of families grew by a whopping 73%; and incomes for the richest 20% by an impressive 49%. But the increases for the bottom 60% of families have been pitiful in comparison – their gains were a meager 7%.
  • In 1979, the average income for the top 5% was 11 times that of the lowest 20%. In 2006, that ratio had grown to 20 times – another indication of the growing mal-distribution of economic rewards.
  • In 1965, CEOs made 24 times the wages of the typical worker. By 2007 that ratio had ballooned to 275 time the earnings of those workers.
  • Meanwhile the value of the minimum wage continues to decline. In the late 1960s, the minimum wage was worth 50% of average worker’s hourly wage. By 2007, it was worth just 33.5% of the average worker’s wage.
  • The inequality in wealth among Americans is even more extreme. In 2004, the top fifth richest families owned a staggering 84.7% of all the wealth of the country. The next 40% owned only 15.1% and the poorest 40% owned less than 1%. The last time the distribution of wealth in this country was this skewed was in the 1920s, right before the Great Depression.
  • The top 20% of wealthy Americans own 90.7% of the stock. The bottom 80% owns a mere 9.4%. And 77% of the increased values of stocks between 1989 and 2004 went to a very few Americans – just the wealthiest 10% of households.
  • Many believe that the increasing popularity of IRAs and mutual funds has given everyone in America of piece of the wealth pie – but that is wrong. The bottom half of Americans own less than 1% of the value of mutual funds, and a mere 3.3% of individual retirement accounts.
  • Upward mobility, the ability to move up the economic ladder, is declining in America. Since the 1970s, fewer Americans have been able to move up and more of those at the top have stayed there.
  • Not surprisingly, given all these figures, the U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries. We are the worst in both income inequality and wealth inequality. To make matters worse, we also have the highest poverty rate and the most children in poverty.


These facts and figures graphically illustrate the growing economic divide among Americans. This situation is not simply disturbing for moral reasons, but also because of the corrosive impacts it is having on the operation of our democracy.

The second development in the private sector that is undermining political equality and democracy is the political mobilization of the corporate community. In the 1970s, the business community was reeling from legislative defeats from environmentalists, labor, and consumer protection groups. They were increasingly concerned about the costs of new regulations. Corporations that had previously been largely apolitical realized that they had to begin to devote more resources to their political efforts. And so corporate interests launched a very well-funded and well-planned campaign to increase their political power – pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns, advocacy advertising, think-tanks, etc. This process has been well chronicled by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their insightful book, Winner-Take-All-Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.8

The result has been that today business has become by far the most powerful organized interest in the United States – greatly outdistancing other large groups such environmentalists, the Christian Right, and the elderly. Labor used to be the traditional liberal counter-balance to business, but its membership has been in steady decline for decades and its political influence in Washington is now minimal. So when large multi-national businesses choose to mobilize their enormous economic resources to influence public policy, no other group in society is able to match those efforts. This doesn’t mean that business wins every political fight, but it does mean that business almost always has the political advantage.

So that is the basic problem: financial inequality is the rule in the private sector, and that has been creating more and more political inequality in the public sector. A coalition of the well-off – wealthy individuals and prosperous companies – now exerts an enormous and disproportionate amount of power in our governmental system. Let’s look at exactly how they manage to pull this off.



How Private Power Becomes Public Power

There are a number of troubling ways that private power is being turned into public power. Typically it involves large amounts of money. Money is the handiest and most versatile form of power because it can buy so many different forms of political influence. It can buy advantages for political candidates, fund massive lobbying efforts, and produce volumes of politically useful information and analysis. Let’s consider each of these things in turn.

Financing Campaigns. Winning office today requires a lot of money, so campaign contributions now play a very crucial role in the election process. For instance, contributions help determine who can run for office in the first place. As the APSA report explains: “To win a seat in national office, the incumbent and challenger usually have to win the support of funders before they go before voters. The effect can be to discourage certain kinds of challengers who, for instance, promote egalitarian policies that would redistribute resources from affluent campaign contributors.”9 In other words, candidates who don’t support the priorities of wealthy contributors often can’t amass the resources necessary to make a viable run for office.

More importantly, donations can buy candidates many advantages – like larger campaign staffs, more high-priced consultants, more media time, and better ads – in their pursuit of voter support. Candidates with more money simply have a much better chance of attracting voters and beating their opponents. Contributions to campaigns, then, are an extremely important form of political influence – they play a significant role in determining who wins office. But this influence is wielded disproportionately by affluent individuals and organizations.

For instance, the campaign donations of political action committees come primarily from organizations that are financially well-off. Corporate and industry trade PACS now far outnumber and out-donate all other interest groups. In the 2008 elections, for instance, these business-oriented PACs outnumbered Labor PACs by almost ten to one and outspent them by four to one – $321 million to $73 million.10 Or consider the uphill battle faced by grassroots interest groups like environmentalists. In 2008, environmental PACs contributed $811,000 to various races. But the PACs for several industries that often fight against increased environmental regulations (energy and natural resources, construction, chemical, and automotive) contributed 50 times that amount -- $40 million.11 It’s not hard to guess which groups are more able to help elect their preferred candidates.

This corporate dominance of campaign funding was made even worse by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that overturned the longstanding ban on corporations spending directly on political campaigns. They are now able to spend as much money as they want to defeat candidates they oppose and to threaten elected officials who don't share their political priorities.

Supporters of our current financing system like to point out that many contributions come from individuals – not PACs or corporations. This seems to suggest that it is the average American voter who is financing most campaigns. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is a huge class bias to these donations. In 2002, 83% of all the itemized donations to campaigns were given by less than one-half of one percent of the U.S. population. And almost three-fourths of these total donations ($1.9 billion) came from a relatively small group of well-off Americans who could afford to donate $2,300 or more.12 This is not public participation – this is rich people’s participation.

Recently, some have argued that the emergence of groups like MoveOn.org has signaled a switch to a more grassroots and democratic approach to funding campaigns. And in 2008, that organization did manage to raise $38 million through the use of the internet and local meetings. But in reality, this figure is a drop in the bucket compared to the $2.2 billion spent by campaigns that year.

So campaign finance is a perfect example of how the concentration of money in the private sector leads to imbalances of power in the public sector. This situation directly undermines the democratic nature of elections. Who gets elected should be determined by the voters, not by well-heeled donors whose contributions give their preferred candidates large and unfair advantages over others. Wealthy individuals and organizations should not have more say over who get elected than the rest of us.

These skewed donations not only affect whose candidates win office, but the behavior of political parties as well. The Democratic and Republican parties are supposed to be rivals that represent very different constituencies. But both have become increasing dependent on wealthy donors and business PACs. This has pushed the Democratic Party farther to the right and has made it less responsive to many of its less affluent constituents, such as workers, minorities, and the poor. Not only elections, but parties are becoming less democratic as well.


Lobbying. Another major source of political influence is lobbying – organized efforts to sway the decisions of policymakers. Lobbying largely determines whose problems and concerns get the attention of policymakers, and whose arguments get a better hearing. In the last thirty years, more and more groups have established lobbying offices in Washington – groups representing environmentalists, gays, the elderly, farmers, consumers, and so on. This gives the appearance of a fair and healthy competition between all interests. But this is only an illusion.

First, not all lobbying organizations are born equal, and the competition between them does not take place on a level playing field. Again, money is what makes the difference. Some lobbies have much larger and more reliable sources of funds, and this tilts this political process in favor of these more wealthy interests. Interests with more money can, for instance, create more lobbying groups to promote their cause. It is hardly a coincidence that the majority of organizations lobbying in Washington, D.C. are corporations. Many these firms also enjoy multiple avenues of representation. Most businesses, for instance, belong to trade groups who also lobby in Washington. General Electric belongs to over 80 trade organizations – most of which also have lobbying arms. If you add together all the corporations, trade groups, and well-off professional organizations (doctors, lawyers, etc.), they make up over a staggering 75% of all lobbying efforts. In contrast, public interest organizations like environmentalists, consumer groups, and civic organizations make up only 4% of lobbying groups. Even more stunning, if you add together unions, civil rights groups, the elderly, women, educational groups, farmers, and veterans, they make up less than 10% of lobbying efforts.13

Not only does more money fund more lobbying efforts, it also pays for larger offices with more staff and better support. More money also buys more effective and more expensive lobbyists – particularly retired members of Congress who are still friendly with their former colleagues on the hill. Money also makes is easier from some lobbyists to get direct access to policymakers. Members of Congress are very busy and can’t see everyone who knocks on their door. But lobbyists with direct access to policymakers have a much better ability to make their case. Studies show that who gets in and how much time they get is often directly related to the size of their campaign contributions.14

Given all this, it is little wonder that two of our leading scholars on interest groups activity, Kay Schlozman and John Tierney, have concluded that the lobbying process “is skewed in favor of groups representing the well-off, especially business, and against groups favoring broad public interests and the disadvantaged.”15



The Power of Ideas. Another way that well-off interests wield political influence is by affecting the way other people look at policy issues. Ideas, information, and analysis are important sources of political persuasion and power. They influence how we look at the world – how we see political issues, what problems are considered important, how political debates are framed, and which policies are considered justified. They are a vital form of intellectual ammunition in political fights. But here again, the competition in this area is not fair. Ideas, information and analysis are commodities – and those interests with more money can pay experts to produce more of these commodities. So this is yet another way that advantages in private financial resources are translated into advantages in political power. It is another way that the voices of affluent interests drown out the voices of average Americans.

Another article on this site, “The Anti-Government Campaign,” chronicles the ability of wealthy families and businesses to funnel billions of dollars into foundations, think-tanks, and universities – the main organizations that produce and promote the work of political intellectuals and policy experts. These intellectual investments produce two kinds of political payoffs. First, these efforts are very useful in lobbying policymakers. Members of Congress can only specialize in a few policy areas, and so they are often dependent on outside sources of information to inform their votes on many complex issues. Well-funded – largely conservative – think-tanks are more than happy to oblige. They provide a steady stream of detailed studies, expert testimony, and Congressional briefings that greatly aid the lobbying efforts of well-heeled interests like big businesses.

The other target of this intellectual barrage is public opinion. There is a concerted effort to shape the public’s ideas about what is desirable politically. If the public can be convinced, for instance, that “what is good for business is good for America,” this provides increased legitimacy for those seeking to roll-back regulations and cut business taxes. So a great deal of money has been spent on creating a sophisticated communications system that constantly promotes the ideas of conservative intellectuals and think-tanks to the public. Materials are sent to reporters on a daily basis and frequent guest commentators are provided to network news shows. Information and analysis are also funneled through right-wing political pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Fred Barnes who then disseminate these ideas through conservative cable news channels like Fox News, right-wing internet sites, and hundreds of national and local radio talk shows.

Vastly Unequal Citizens

So what does all of this add up to? Incredible imbalances in private and public power and a political playing field that is hugely uneven. A typical non-unionized worker has her one vote, but few other ways to influence policy. Her measly $25 campaign donation is lost in the avalanche of special interest contributions. She might write a letter to her Congressperson, but it will likely be drowned out by the organized letter-writing campaigns of large lobbies. In contrast, for a corporate executive, his vote is his least important political tool. He can have much more influence by donating thousands of dollars to political action committees as well as thousands more in individual donations to specific candidates – all working to increase the election chances of his favorite politicians. And his economic interests are also much better represented in the policymaking process by the many well-healed organizations that lobby for his firm and industry. Finally, our executive is more likely to have his political and policy ideas pitched to Congress by think-tank experts and espoused to the public by media pundits. So here we have two Americans, two citizens who are supposed to be political equals, but who have vastly different amounts of power. This mal-distribution of political power cannot help but have a corrosive effect on our democracy.

The Result: Policies by and for Affluent Special Interests

These imbalances of power produce a clear bias in the political system toward the interests of affluent individuals and businesses. Policymakers are more apt to listen to these interests and design policies with them in mind. Several recent studies have sought to gauge the political clout that various economic classes had over the decisions of politicians. One found that “senators are vastly more responsive to the views of affluent constituents than to the constituents of modest means.”16 In fact, if the poor and working class support a particular policy that means that senators are actually less likely to vote for it. Another empirical study of public opinion and policy found that “the American political system is a great deal more responsive to the preferences of the rich than to the preferences of the poor.”17 Finally, a study found that even if a majority of Americans supports a new policy, it doesn’t stand a good chance of becoming law unless it is also supported the well-off.18 Hardly surprising, but very disturbing none the less.

It is not hard to find specific policy examples of this political tilt toward the well-off. Tax policy is exhibit number one. In recent years, the public has not been citing tax cuts as one of their highest priorities. In fact, polls reveal that most Americans would now rather forgo more tax cuts and spend that money on areas like education and health care. And yet for over a decade, the Republican-dominated Congress continued to put tax cuts high on their legislative agenda. Such behavior by policymakers makes much more sense when it is understood that these cuts have disproportionately favored the rich and businesses – the very interests who have the dominant powerbase in our political system. It is hardly a coincidence that in the first year after the 2003 tax cuts, households making over $1 million were granted a gift of nearly $100,000 in tax cuts, while the average tax cut for a middle-class family was a paltry $217. Nor is it just a matter of luck that Congressional tax policies – under both Democrats and Republicans – have reduced the share of federal taxes paid by businesses from 20% of total federal revenue in 1975 to a mere 7% in 2003.19 One of the most blatant examples of elite power occurred in 2010, when the Republican Party refused to allow the extension of unemployment benefits to millions of jobless Americans unless the Democrats agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich. These are just a few examples of how tax policy has produced immediate and large pay-offs for the money that affluent interests have invested in buying political influence.

This current imbalance of financial and political power not only helps to explain what Congress does, but also what it does not do. It sheds light on why Congress is so slow to act on some serious problems – especially problems that are not of particular concern to the moneyed interests wielding the most power. Consider, for instance, the problem of unemployment. The recent deep recession has left record numbers of people without jobs. And millions who want full time work can only find part time jobs. But in the face of this unemployment crisis, Congress has largely sat on its hands and has done little to promote the creation of more jobs. Largely this is because the suffering of American workers is of little interest to the well-moneyed interests that dominate in our political system.

Or take health care policy. For many decades now, our health care crisis has been growing. Over 47 million Americans had no medical insurance. Employers were cutting back on coverage for their workers. Many middle-class families were being financially pressed by increasing medical costs. Financially strapped state governments began limiting access to Medicaid for many people living in poverty. The quality of medical care was highly uneven and we compared poorly to most other Western countries in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality. And yet in the face of all of this, Congress was reluctant to act in any vigorous or concerted way. For decades we remained the only Western democracy that did not provide some form of universal health care for its citizens. And all this despite consistent public support for major health care reform. By almost a two-to-one margin, Americans said they would rather scrap the current employer-based insurance system and replace it with a government program that would provide coverage for everyone. Three-quarters of Americans said that access to health care should be a right – not something available only to those who can afford it. And 67% said they would even be willing to pay more in taxes to make this universal coverage a reality.20 Still, until the election of President Obama, most members of Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – adamantly refused to promote such a universal plan. Why was that the case?

The answer had to do with the imbalance of political power that has been described here. First, health care reform was not a high priority for those who are well-off in society – they had no problem affording the best medical care. More importantly, there were powerful special interests who benefited from the current system and who diligently worked against any attempts to create a universal health insurance system. A sociologist, Jill Qaudagno, has written an insightful book about this problem entitled One Nation Uninsured: Why the U.S. Has No National Health Insurance.21 She showed how powerful private interests were able to block every effort in Congress to move toward a national health care program. In the 1960s, it was primarily physicians who torpedoed the attempt. In recent years, it has been insurance companies and employers. And even when health care reform was finally passed in 2010, the Republicans and their health care industry allies were able to block the most promising and wide reaching reform proposals, such as the single-payer government plan that has proved so successful in other Western democracies.

Needed: More Power to the People 

It hasn't always been the case that wealthy interests have so successfully dominated our political system. There have been times in our past when Congress rose up to pass broad-based policies that greatly extended economic equality, economic security, and economic opportunity among all citizens – legislation such as Social Security in the 1930s, the G. I. Bill in the 1940s, and Medicare in the 1960s. These egalitarian policies improved the lives of virtually all American families and are widely recognized as political and moral highpoints in American politics. But today these kinds of progressive bills would face a huge uphill battle in Washington, even with the Democrats in charge. Such efforts would be quickly attacked by powerful special interests, and condemned by most conservatives as expensive and wasteful “big government” programs that would only raise taxes. The shift in political power that has taken place toward well-off individuals and corporations has made it very difficult to pass these kinds of egalitarian policies.

It is this shift in power, not a shift in public opinion, which has created the right-ward swing toward more inegalitarian policies. Most Americans still support a broadly egalitarian political agenda – higher minimum wages, more help for the poor, most affordable higher education, and so on. What has changed is not public opinion, but the distribution of power. Most Americans back more government spending on health care and education, and more regulations that protect workers and the environment. Social programs, taxes, and regulations have been cut not because the public has demanded it, but because those with the most power have demanded it. As the APSA report concluded: “Interest groups and money are tools wielded disproportionately by a small segment of American citizens to enact policies that concentrate benefits on them and to block egalitarian policies...” That, in a nutshell, is the alarming policy result of the shift in political power that is undermining democracy in the United States.

Some people believe that electing more liberal politicians, like Barack Obama, will help to solve this deficit of democracy. It can't hurt. But a change in elected leaders can only do so much to address the undemocratic tendencies that have become deeply embedded in our economic and political systems. If we are to really remedy these problems, we need more basic reforms. To see what some of those reforms are, go to "How to Fix American Government and Revive Democracy."


1. Lawrence R. Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, eds., Inequality and American Democracy (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005) p. 8.

2. Ibid. p. 8.

3. Ibid. p. 25.

4. Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy, “American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality,” American Political Science Association, 2004. This was later published in book form: Lawrence R. Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, eds., Inequality and American Democracy (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005).

5. Inequality and American Democracy, p. 1.

6. Inequality and American Democracy, p. 117.

7. Most of these economic facts and figures came from Economic Policy Institute, The State of Working America, January 2006-2007. http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/books_swa2006; and Inequality.Org, “How Unequal Are We, Anyway?” November, 2008. http://www.inequality.org/facts.html

8. Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All-Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010.

9. Inequality and American Democracy, p. 115.

10. These figures come from the website Open Secrets.Org, http://www.opensecrets.org

11. Open Secrets.Org.

12. Open Secrets.Org.

13. Kay L. Schlozman and John T. Tierney, Organized Interests and American Democracy. New York: Harper and Row, 1986, pp. 67-68.

14. Inequality and American Democracy, p. 116.

15. Schlozman and Tierney, Organized Interests and American Democracy, p. 66.

16. Inequality and American Democracy, p. 127.

17. Inequality and American Democracy, p. 127.

18. Martin Gilens, “Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness,” Public Opinion Quarterly 69, no.5 (2005): 778-96/.

 19. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2004 ed. (Washington, DC: U.S. Printing Office, 2004), p. 300.

20.This poll figures can be found in Ruy Teixeira, “Public Opinion and Universal Health Care,” The Emerging Democratic Majority web site, September 16, 2005. http://www.emergingdemocraticmajorityweblog.com/donkeyrising/archives/001291.php

21. Jill Quadango, One Nation Uninsured: Why the U.S. Has No National Health Insurance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).