Top-down or bottom-up? Sinister interests – vs – the median voter strategy

For some time I’ve been puzzled as to why empirical political scientists and normative political theorists have taken up antithetical positions on what has to be the central issue of democratic politics – who rules?. In the former community there is widespread agreement that the demos has kratos – elected politicians are obliged to formulate policies that are designed to attract the support of the ‘median’ voter. Political theorists, however (along with their colleagues in media studies), in so far as they are interested in the topic at all, view this as little more than a confidence trick, designed to conceal the identity of the shadowy ‘sinister interests’ who are really pulling the strings of power. Given that political scientists and political theorists are both housed in the same faculties, and drink their cappuccinos in the same common rooms, why should they come to such diametrically opposed conclusions?
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