Demonstrating its conclusions, the study offered broad empirical evidence including data that showed how “a proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18% of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time.”

On the other hand, the study continued, “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

This dynamic has helped explain that even as increasing numbers of Americans say they support programs like universal healthcare coverage or tuition-free higher education, the possibility of such changes to the system is treated as impractical because of the elite interests that oppose them.

Though neither Gilens and Page nor the new AP/NORC poll employ the term “oligarchy” in their language, many outside observers say that is exactly what the United States—with elections dominated by corporate and private wealth and a media industry dominated the economic elite—has become.

Merriam-Webster defines the word as, “government by the few.”

Though many still deny it, Common Dreams contributor John Atcheson explains on Thursday why the reality of an American oligarchy—one that bends to the will of the wealthy and powerful while denying equity and progress to the large majority—is not just the proverbial elephant in the room, but rather “a huge honking beast squatting squarely on our ottoman.”

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