Political scientists Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Henry E. Brady were recently honored in Orlando for their book Voice and Equality. The book and its authors won the 2012 American Association for Public Opinion Research Book Award, recognizing influential scholarly works that inspire critical thinking on the topic of public opinion. Their extensive survey analysis demonstrated that some citizens have a greater voice in political matters than others, and that this disparity arises due to unequal access to education and other crucial resources. The civic imbalance is most lop-sided in situations where participating requires monetary donations as opposed to sacrificing one’s time.
In short, the book concludes:
… [M]eaningful democratic participation requires that the voices of citizens be clear, loud, and equal: clear so that public officials know what citizens want and need, loud so that officials have an incentive to pay attention to what they hear, and equal so that the democratic ideal of equal responsiveness to the preferences and interests of all is not violated. Our analysis of voluntary activity in American politics suggests that the public’s voice is often loud, sometimes clear, but rarely equal.