File - An Occupy Wall Street activist shouts slogans while marching through the financial district in Lower Manhattan on the one-year anniversary of the movement in New York September 17, 2012.
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The United States' status as a democratic society is under threat as it turns into an oligarchy where policy is shaped by a rich elite and the average citizen has little or no influence. That is the conclusion of a new study, challenging most Americans' belief that their country is a model of democracy for the world. Two respected political scientists, Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, reviewed opinion surveys on public policy issues over a 21-year period and analyzed how often the preferences of various income groups became law. In other words, the majority does not rule.The study by Gilens and Page was the first to examine such a wide range of policy issues – 1,799 in total – and the impact on enacting them by the economic elite, average Americans, and the bottom 20 percent.What is different today is that there is more wealth concentrated at the very top than there has been since the 1920s.It is a trend likely to undermine the average citizen's faith in the democratic process, which is already weaker than in many other democratic countries.
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