Classes- Elites Vs. Masses

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This week's readings topic was the on elites and social classes. Domhoff showed that the elite class does exist in the U.S. and also, explains how they got to where they are and are staying there. Burstein talks about public opinion and how the masses do or don't shape public policy with their opinions and actions. Friedman discusses using fear to guide public opinion and therefore public policy, in the article he uses the fear of terrorism as his example.

Building off last week's Adolino and Blake chapter 3, this week's readings grouped people together in social classes. We started with Domhoff discussing what we now have come to know as the 1% portion of the population and Burstein shows how the 99% can be heard in the public realm. Friedman then discusses a separate group or social cleavage that is formed not by economic status but common fear.

This all leads to a separate connection and that is how you would message to these different groups and win their favor politically. Which is also can be related to the reading from last week Why Advancement in Public Administration Has Always Been an Essay Contest. Strong writing ability is important in communicating with the different classes and groups that have developed in our society. Especially in a campaign setting where you have to educate voters about why you are the right woman or man to represent them.

The reading this week does a good job of establishing the fact that we have social classes in the U.S. What we didn't read is do different groups have more power then another group? We could look at different current issues and see what public opinion is on topics like the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Currently there are several states that are working on legislation that will require corporations to disclose their political contributions. Which makes me wonder what my fellow classmates think of this issue and other similar issues in campaign finance, does anyone have any comments or suggestions of what could to be done to change this system?

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I think that moves in various states to require greater disclosure of political spending are absolutely critical, but I don't think that disclosure will have a huge impact on the power of the elite. Most people would probably agree that public policy should be responsive to public opinion on most issues, so I feel that most efforts to improve responsiveness are worthwhile. Presumably, requiring corporations to disclose their political contributions would reduce corporate donations because companies would be concerned about offending their customers. Reducing corporate donations would potentially make politicians less beholden to corporations. Nevertheless, disclosure of donations is just a very small step towards increasing responsiveness. As I wrote in my response, I suspect that the elite have broad powers in setting the terms of debate and shaping public opinion. Moreover, requiring disclosure of donations will not stop donations. Thus, much broader reforms would probably be needed if our goal was to reduce the influence of the elite.

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