There’s Income Inequality in Politics Too

Nicholas Carnes “raises serious questions about our democratic process” by illuminating the economic inequities between “ordinary Americans and the people who represent them in the halls of power.”

“If millionaires in the United States formed their own political party, that party would make up just 3 percent of the country, but it would have a majority in the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate, a 5 to 4 majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House.”

“If working-class Americans … were a political party, that party would have made up more than half of the country since the start of the 20th century, but its legislators … would never have held more than 2 percent of the seats in Congress.”

Carnes’ findings are “squarely at odds with the rosy notion that class doesn’t matter in our political institutions.”

“The consequences for economic policy are often enormous. In White-Collar Government, I simulated how Congress would have voted on several high-profile economic reforms if it had had the same social class makeup as the country as a whole. Several major conservative economic victories … probably wouldn’t have passed if Congress had been made up of the same mix of classes as the nation it represents.”

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