How Inequality Undermines Democracy: The Case against the United States, and Beyond
This paper investigates the negative relationship between economic inequality and democracy, in the United States. It analyzes how economic inequality translates into the political sphere, and in particular, how it operates in the American case. This paper finds that the role played by economic inequality in distorting democracy takes place through three particular areas: the role big injections of money play into electoral campaigns and subsequent elections; the role interest groups play in policy making; and, the role the inequality in American society has come to play in creating, and reproducing an ideology that maintains that very inequality. To do so, the paper draws extensively on recent data concerning American congressional elections, U.S. policy making, and on Robert Cox’s mechanisms through which institutions reproduce hegemony. Using Cox’s analysis of institutional hegemony production, the paper finds five analogous claims on how the individual – as an institution – is used as a mechanism for maintaining a hegemonic order.