By Don McCanne, M.D.
When Ronald Reagan became president the Dow Jones Industrial average was about 800. Now the Reagan era has brought it to almost 25,000. So the nation’s optimism is resting on a bubble; you can bet your bitcoins on that.
We have problems, beginning with the most expensive and dysfunctional health care financing system of all wealthy nations (what this blog is all about). Although that is a multi-trillion dollar problem, it is only but a small portion of all of our nation’s and the world’s ills.
Recite in your mind some of the many problems we have. You realize that most of them have reasonable solutions – solutions that most of us support. So why are we not moving forward to address them? In yesterday’s message, Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens described what has gone wrong and what we can do about it. Basically we need better public policies along with government officials dedicated to carrying them out.
What is holding us back? We are a Democracy aren’t we? Well, that seems to be a problem. Although we have the right to vote, most of us are unable to influence what actually happens in government. In their classic 2014 paper in Perspectives on Politics, Gilens and Page showed us that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”
What we lack is policy responsiveness to ordinary citizens – Page and Gilens’ definition of democracy. What we need is for all of us who care to join together in a social movement for Democracy. Only then can we hope to make progress in combating the other ills of our society (including correcting the deficiencies in our expensive but dysfunctional health care system).
As you see, for the last message of the year, I decided to repeat yesterday’s theme – the most important message I’ve sent out all year. Read “Democracy in America?” and then let’s all join together and act on it.
Benjamin I. Page and Martin Gilens, “Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It”
The University of Chicago Press, November 2017
Quote of the Day on “Democracy in America?”
December 28, 2017
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”
Perspectives on Politics, September 2014
https://www.cambridge.org… (page has link to full article)
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