According to this study, America is an oligarchy. Here is a quote (as per the New Yorker):
Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then Americaâ(TM)s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
When I hear about abuses of power, when I hear about the NSA spying on everyone, when I hear about militarization of police, when I hear about local police departments running roughshod over the Constitution as implied in the parent article, I start to think that something is deeply wrong in America. Then I remember that Americans still have the right to vote in those who rule them. And that is encouraging. But then I realize that most Americans have lost the ability to comprehend the systems of power that rule them. I remember that too many Americans vote based on shallow ignorant views, that they are persuaded by 30 second political TV commercials instead of actual rational argument, which is boring and long and tedious. And I remember that those 30 second TV commercials are expensive, and that politicians must go begging to those with large amounts of money in order to buy those 30 second commercials. And I remember that when politicians accept money from those very wealthy interests, that they become enslaved to them. And this makes me feel hopeless.
Then I remember that if Americans stopped listening to shallow arguments given in 30 second TV commercials, if they started to demand rational argument instead of the shallow blather that has so far persuaded them, then they could take back power from the corrupt wealthy interests who have driven the country into the ground over the last three and a half decades. And that makes me a little bit hopeful.