Harvard Business School Says American Political System Rigged


First there was a study by Princeton University that found the U.S. was an Oligarchy

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

This is not news, you say.

Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here’s how they explain it:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

“A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time,” they write, “while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time.”

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.


The results of the Princeton study are no surprise to anyone who has an issue they have been supporting and can’t organize at least a few million in donations and the likely promise of providing a sinecure to a politician’s friends and family.  Now comes a study from the Harvard Business School explaining just how this has come to be and why it works. The executive summary: If you felt the two party system meant politicians didn’t care about your vote, you were right. Pat yourself on the back and have a cry in a beer.

The U.S. political system isn’t broken. It’s working exactly the way the two main parties designed it.

That’s the conclusion of a new Harvard Business School study. Authors Katherine Gehl, former president and CEO of Gehl Foods, and Michael Porter, a professor at the school, apply business theory to the U.S. political system and find an industry that works for Democratic and Republican organizations, big donors, pollsters, consultants, partisan think tanks, the media and lobbyists, but ignores most American citizens.

In short, the two-party system has become a textbook example of a duopoly where neither party is competing for the same customers. “The parties have figured out that they don’t want to compete for the middle, to please the middle,” Mr. Porter said in an interview.

Instead, they cater to primary voters and what the authors term the political-industrial complex. That leaves a host of economic priorities, such as sweeping tax reform, an overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure or fixes to the health care system, increasingly out of reach.

The new analysis blames a system that allows an industry—in this case the political industry—to create its own rules with little oversight. The result has been stifled competition due to partisan primaries, control over access to general election ballots, gerrymandering, sore-loser laws, which in some states prevent primary losers from competing in the general election as an independent, and other political rules.

My first thought on reading this was “a duopoly you say ??”, that doesn’t compete for each others customers ??  So our political system is actually working on the same game plan as Cable Companies the most hated companies in the country. When you look at their approval numbers (14.3% of the people approve of congress) actually less people like the country’s politicians than like their cable company. Not only the same system they have managed to make even more people dislike the implementation.

Second thought ,you may have noticed that many people around here are continuously screaming at you “VOTE IN THE PRIMARIES”, or “PRIMARY THE CANDIDATE”,  well now it’s science. Not only should you be voting in the primaries, you should be letting your candidates know what you want and just how dissatisfied you are they have been sitting on their hands about getting it done. Absent the emergence of a viable third party that competes for the middle (Sorry libertarians and greens that lets you out forever) it’s all you can do.

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