Noam Chomsky: America is only a democracy for the 1 percent

Why is voter turnout so low? Because the poor and the working class have been disenfranchised. Chomksy sounds off

Published June 22, 2016 8:00AM (EDT)

  (AP/Ramon Espinosa)
(AP/Ramon Espinosa)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


After the primaries, the election, some voters believe, comes down to choosing between the "lesser of two evils." And a majority of Americans are deeply dissatisfied with their choices this year.

Noam Chomsky's got some tough talk about how the people we vote for, regardless of their party, cater to the elite.

"[The United States] became to a high extent run by the business world, and that's revealed in many ways," Chomsky said in a video for Concord University West Virginia.

"Take voting," he continued. "The United States has a pretty high abstention level—people who don't vote. And that's been investigated with interesting results. ... [U.S. non-voters'] socioeconomic profile matches those in Europe who vote for labor-based or social democratic parties. That sector of the population in the United States just doesn't vote, because nothing represents them. There are no such parties."

According to Chomsky and county-by-county data from the 2014 election, "Voting in that election was approximately the same as [voting] in the 1820s, when the vote was restricted to propertied white males; 2014 about the same level of voting, which tells you quite a lot about participation in what's called a democratic society."

"These results are amplified when we look at how people are represented by their own representatives. ... You study the policies that the representatives vote for—that's public—and you study the attitudes of people, who they represent. ... And it turns out that for about 70 percent of the population, the lower 70 percent on the income-wealth scale, they're basically disenfranchised," Chomsky claimed.

But wait, if there's no voting fraud, why doesn't everyone's vote count?

"Their own representatives vote in ways dissociated from their [constituents'] preferences. As you move up the income wealth scale, you get a little more influence on representatives, and at the very top, which means really a fraction of 1 percent, policies are essentially made," Chomsky said.

Watch the video here.

By Alexandra Rosenmann

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