American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class
This review isn't going quite to fit the pattern of a regular review as I took over six weeks reading this book and heading down several rabbit trails as I attempted to figure out what I thought about this topic. First off, Ron Formisano should get together with Elizabeth Warren as I believe they agree on the state of our nation and how it got to this place where the middle class is now like the poor of years past.
This book is for you if you want an in-depth, detailed look at the U.S. government and the people we have elected and how their families benefit from their connections. We all know on some level that there are benefits to being rich and holding office. It's also widely believed that you can't get elected these days unless you are wealthy due to the high cost of advertising and traveling the campaign trail.
When I got to about the halfway mark reading this book I put it down and did some research on my own. Political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, studied this very topic in 2014.
They wrote: "Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."
Huh. So I went back to this book and read the rest. As I read, I found myself nodding in agreement and feeling more and more cynical about the state of the union. Lobbying Firms, Thinktanks, Big Pharma, and the media are all staffed by nepotism of the oligarchy class. It's kind of like not asking how to make sausage because once you find out, you go through that uncomfortable period of being super aware and uncomfortable. Now, most of us eventually tuck that info away and just don't dwell on it. I don't think we have that luxury anymore.
I found this to be one of the most well researched and footnoted books on the subject that I've ever read. I'll end with this sentence from the author,
"American Oligarchy has been written, not to propose a path out of the New Gilded Age, but to discredit the political class by raking its muck between covers in black and white."
I read this book as a DRC in exchange for an honest review.