Why Politically Active Billionaires Threaten the Health of Democracy

Darrell M. West, Brookings Institution

More ostentatiously than at any time since the Gilded Age, super-wealthy tycoons are working to engineer electoral operations and push candidates, parties, and public officeholders to carry through favored policies. West reveals what is happening – and probes the downsides for democracy in the United States and beyond.

West’s new Key Findings brief presents the highlights of his just-published book, Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust (Brookings Press, 2014). Additionally, he has recently launched the U.S. Billionaires Political Power Index, an interactive feature ranking American billionaires in terms of their political power and influence.

Previously at Brown University, Darrell West is currently the Director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. His research focuses on U.S. public policies, technological innovations in politics, and the role of the media in politics. He is currently focused on deciphering the impact of money on democracy, and finding ways to strengthen citizen participation and understanding of democratic politics in the United States. He participates in public as well as scholarly discussions through regular appearances in the media.

September 2014