16 November 2014

Moyers: Our Democracy Is Flatlined - Moneyed Interests and Politics

"There was a Princeton study by Martin Gilens and Ben Page. The largest empirical study of actual policy decisions by our government in the history of our government. And what they did is they related our actual decisions to what the economic elite care about, what the organized interest groups care about, and what the average voter cares about.

And when they look at the economic elite, you know, as the percentage of economic elite who support an idea goes up, the probability of it passing goes up. As the organized interests care about something more and more, the probability of it passing goes up. But as the average voter cares about something, it has no effect at all, statistically no effect at all on the probability of it passing.

If we can go from zero percent of the average voters caring about something to 100 percent and it doesn't change the probability of it actually being enacted. And when you look at those numbers, that graph, this flat line, that flat line is a metaphor for our democracy.

Our democracy is flatlined. Because when you can show clearly there's no relationship between what the average voter cares about, only if it happens to coincide with what the economic elite care about, you've shown that we don't have a democracy anymore."

Lawrence Lessig

"It [big money] mattered enormously. It mattered in the selection of candidates. You know, long before we even heard their names, the candidates were selected if they were basically comfortable working for big-money donors. And that in itself gets you out of the realm of inspirational leadership. And then, of course, it mattered in the drowning of ads and the sense that people outside of any accountable power, super PACs outside of any accountable power, were really sort of running the system."

Zephyr Teachout