Political Inequality in America: Who Loses and What Can Be Done About It?

Source: Zoltan L. Hajnal, University of California, 2015

Rapid growth in America’s economic inequality and endemic disadvantages among racial minorities have deepened fears about unequal political influence. From separate studies, it appears that government responds more to the wealthy and to whites. But critical questions remain unanswered. Is it class or race that ultimately drives inequality in government responsiveness? Also, how can disparities in responsiveness be reduced? Can the composition of political leadership, economic growth, or expanded voter turnout diminish unequal influence? To answer these questions, we assess the congruence between individual-level policy preferences and policy outcomes using the General Social Survey. We match individual spending preferences in 11 policy areas with actual federal spending to see whose preferences are realized. We find that race, more so than class, shapes government responsiveness. We also find that Democratic Party control eliminates over half of the racial bias in responsiveness. Economic growth also narrows racial inequalities.
Race and gender matter for representation
Source: Sean McElwee, Al Jazeera America, August 19, 2015

The US political system ignores black women’s voices in policy decisions more than any other minority group.