The very wealthy and their priorities dominate American democracy, reinforcing profound economic inequality through the political process and empowering a distinct minority. This is the defining challenge of our time. But it’s not a story exclusively about the current president or about campaign contributions. Plutocracy has a long history and a complex array of institutional supports, both within and outside of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Social conservatism, racial division, the outrage politics that began with talk radio and moved to social media, the breakdown of institutions such as the Senate, and effective state-level organizing all work together to strengthen the hand of the already wealthy and powerful.
In their new book, Let Them Eat Tweets, political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson examine each aspect of American plutocracy, showing how they fit together and reinforce the power of wealth, even when it conflicts with the interests and preferences of most American voters. As this book points out, retaining many voters' support despite massive inequality requires a level of division and distraction that also undermines democracy.
In examining plutocracy’s paradoxes and consequences, Hacker and Pierson have written the most comprehensive overview of the current state of American democracy and the market for power yet published.
Please join New America’s Political Reform Program for an online discussion of Let Them Eat Tweets on July 9, 2020, from 12:30-2:00. The authors will be joined by Jamila Michener, author of Fragmented Democracy and a professor in the Government Department at Cornell.