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Why the House of Representatives Doesn't Represent the US Public

By       Message Thom Hartmann       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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One of the really weird ironies of politics these days is the huge divergence between what the US people actually want and what the radical right-wingers in Washington actually do.

You won't hear this on "Fox So-Called News," but right now the US people are as progressive as they ever have been.

Don't believe me? Just check the polls.

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The Progressive Change Institute recently asked likely 2016 voters about their views on a bunch of big issues, and it turns out that everyday citizens overwhelmingly support some of the most liberal policies around.

  • 71 percent of the US public supports giving all students access to a debt-free college education.
  • 70 percent support expanding Social Security.
  • 71 percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding out broken roads and bridges and putting people back to work.
  • 59 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.
  • 77 percent support giving every US child free pre-K education.

And the list goes on.

  • 58 percent of Americans support breaking up the big banks.
  • 59 percent, meanwhile, support a basic guaranteed minimum income while a still higher percentage - 70 percent - support the creation of a "Green New Deal" that would see the government invest hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough, support on Capitol Hill for the Congressional Progressive Caucus' (CPC) annual budget, which would put into place many of these very same liberal policies, is growing.

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A full 40 percent of House Democrats supported the CPC budget in 2012, 43 percent supported it in 2013, 44 percent supported it in 2014 and more than half - 51.5 percent - support it this year.

In other words, progressive values aren't just popular with everyday citizens - they're also popular, and increasingly more popular, with one of our two major parties, the Democratic one.

But all this begs the question: If more than half of congressional Democrats and way more than half of all citizens support doing things like expanding Social Security and making college free for all, why aren't those policies becoming law?

Why, in our democracy, is the will of the people not being heard?

The answer is both simple and tragic - we no longer actually live in a democracy.

We live in an oligarchy.

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Thanks to the Supreme Court's long war against campaign finance law, the billionaires and economic royalists now have more control over our political system than they have in almost a century.

This isn't opinion; it's objective and quantifiable fact.

A study released last year by political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, for example, found the following:

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)
 

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