An Analysis of Political Elitism Essay

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An Analysis of Political Elitism

It is easy to believe that the middle-class working individual, whether he or she be white collar or blue collar, wields little political power except for during an election. It is also easy to think that we don’t have true democracy; political representation elected by the people, for the people, and controlled by these people. This is an ideology that is often worn out. Instead, these elected representatives are controlled by political élites: high-ranking political "gladiators", the media, lobbyists, and, though it may not seem evident, big business. It is, in essence, commonly believed by most. Some reasons why political élites at times dominate government and who these groups are will be examined in
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From a sociological point of view, elitism deals with class structures. Marx describes these class structures and what makes certain individuals "High Class" or "important". "The separation of ownership from the management and control of industry" (Penguin Books, 1994, p.58). Marxists see political élites as "bad guys" - theoretically, it is because they represent a small portion of the population and are believed to control most of the political power and money. However, Plato’s Republic offers a different standpoint. In his work, political élites are seen as "good guys" - wise, virtuous, and knowledgeable. It is difficult to define elitism, however. The above definition, first and foremost, deals with financial status. What’s more, Plato’s opinions and definitions of elites are blatantly out of date. Though political élites are predominately high-class and wealthy, it does not explain interest groups and lobbyists. The men and women in these groups are, on the whole, not particularly "rich" or "important". What makes them truly important or powerful is that they alter public opinion (The media works in the same way, however this will be discussed later). The idea that elites shape public opinion applies to all elites as well. Not to mention the fact that the majority of Canadians have negative attitudes toward political elites. As a common sense definition we see the actual people who are elites as "fat cats": Rich, privileged, with no concern for the
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