Who is really running America? The Koch Brothers? George Soros? The Illuminati? The Lizard People?
Researchers studying the question have found the answer – American politics is dominated by “the 1%.” Trouble is, this is not the 1% you are expecting.
The National Journal wrote up the polling they conducted with Allstate and the results are pretty stark. A very tiny minority of people with too much time on their hands compose the overwhelming bulk of political initiative in the US.
Forty-one percent of Americans do not participate very often in any of 10 bedrock activities of American civic and political life, according to the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor survey.
At the other end of the spectrum, just 1 percent of Americans engage very often in eight or more of the activities—from attending town hall meetings to volunteering in the community to giving money to a cause or political candidate.
The decline of our social capital institutions has radically weakened the complex network of relationships and organizations that used to filter much of the crazy out of our politics. Now a narrow, odd, and consistently unrepresentative sample of Americans has a radically disproportionate influence on politics. You may have heard this before:
Time, especially the time of capable individuals has become the most valuable commodity in our economy and some are blessed with more of it than others. We recognize the growing influence of money because it is easy to understand how money affects politics. We have attempted to construct an entire legal and political infrastructure to document the political activities of the wealthy and keep them in check. We are ignoring the influence of the other elite – those who have precious time to spare and the will to pour it into grassroots politics.
We remain defenseless against the surging power of the other one percent.