Power is the ability to control other people. There are at least three major ways to control people: 1) winning hearts, 2) winning minds, and 3) winning wallets. Thus, there are at least three major elites in America: The popular elite (those with political capital), the cultural elite (those with cultural capital), and the financial elite (those with financial capital).

Thus in order to make a list of the 100ish most powerful people in America, I simply took the top few dozen from each category (a few elites belonged to more than one category). Of course this is greatly oversimplified, but it might give you a rough and ready idea of who runs the country.

The Popular Elite (the conventionally powerful)

The popular elite are those who have achieved their elite status through the power of the people. They are the people who have won America’s hearts. America claims to be a democracy and in a democracy popularity = power, so the popular elite is simply the few dozen most worshiped Americans (as identified by Gallup):

1. Barack Obama
2. Hillary Clinton
3. Oprah Winfrey
4. Condoleeza Rice
5. Bill Clinton
6. Michelle Obama
7. Rev. Billy Graham
8. George W. Bush
9. Angelina Jolie
10. Sarah Palin
11. Ben Carson
12. Bill Gates
13. Bill O’reilly
14. George H.W. Bush
15. Mitt Romney
16. Joel Olsteen
17. Elizabeth Warren
18. Laura Bush
19. Barbara Bush
20. Ellen DeGeneres
21. Beyonce Knowles
22. Scarlett Johanson
23. Thomas Monson
24. Donald Trump
25. Colin Powell
26. Jimmy Carter
27. Warren Buffet
28. Ted Cruz
29. Mike Huckabee
30. John McCain
31. Clint Eastwood
32. Glenn Beck
33. Brad Pitt
34. Newt Gingrich
35. Michelle Bachmann

The Cultural Elite (the intelligentsia)

The cultural elite are those who have achieved their elite status through the power of their ideas and arguments. They are the people who have won America’s minds, or at least the minds of the elites. According to Atlantic Monthly, these are the top columnists, bloggers and broadcast pundits who shape the national debate:

1. Paul Krugman
2. Rush Limbaugh
3. George Will
4. Thomas Friedman
5. David Brooks
6. Charles Krauthammer
7. Glenn Beck
8. Frank Rich
9. Andrew Sullivan
10. Karl Rove
11. Sean Hannity
12. David Broder
13. Peggy Noonan
14. Rachel Maddow
15. Arianna Huffington
16. Fareed Zakaria
17. Maureen Dowd
18. E.J. Dionne
19. Bill O’reilly
20. Keith Olbermann
21. Kathleen Parker
22. Glen Greenwald
23. Nicholas Kristof
24. William Kristol
25. Robert Samuelson
26. Dick Morris
27. Eugene Robinson
28. David Ignatius
29. Josh Marshal
30. Mark Levin
31. Holman Jenkins
32. Bill Moyers
33. Richard Cohen
34. Jonah Goldberg
35. Gail Collins

The Financial Elite (the rich)

Last but certainly not least, are the financial elites. They have the power to win America’s wallets. Thier campaign contribution can decide which popular elites can run for president and their ability to buy newspapers and cable networks determine which cultural elites get to have a platform and which popular elites get good publicity. Never underestimate the power of money. The financial elite are simply the few dozen richest billionaires in America according to authoritative Forbes magazine:

1. Bill Gates
2. Warren Buffet
3. Larry Ellison
4. Charles Koch
5. David Koch
6. Christy Walton & family
7. Jim Walton
8. Michael Bloomberg
9. Alice Walton
10. S. Robson Walton
11. Mark Zuckerberg
12. Sheldon Adelson
13. Larry Page
14. Sergery Brin
15. Jeff Bezos
16. Carl Icahn
17. George Soros
18. Steve Ballmer
19. Forest Mars Jr
20 Jacqueline Mars
21. John Mars
22. Len Blavatnik
23. Phil Knight
24. Harold Hamm
25. Michael Dell
26. Charles Ergen
27. Paul Allen
28. Laurence Powell Jobs & family
29. Anne Cox Chambers
30. Ray Dalio
31. Donald Bren
32. Ronald Perelman
33. Rupert Murdoch & family
34. Jack Taylor & family
35. John Paulson

Advertisements